China has donated marine pollution control equipments with a combined worth of 20 million pesos (454,500 U.S. dollars) to the Philippines, part of which will be used in the salvage of the capsized passenger ferry M/V Princess of theStars, Philippine Coast Guard (PSG) authority said Thursday.
The equipments are part of the donations China handed over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) of the Philippines last year and were formally transferred to the PSG authority on Thursday, witnessed by DSWD Undersecretary Celia C. Yangco.
The equipments include 10,800-meter oil spill boom, 500 pairs of protective overalls, 200 units of high pressure spraying equipment, among others that are badly needed by the Philippine coast guards but "are hard to come by due to the prohibitive costs," PCG spokesman Armando Balilo told Xinhua.
He said the donation is very timely as some of them will be immediately sent to the Sibuyan island in central Philippines, where the 23,800-ton ferry capsized in the typhoon-tossed waves more than one month ago. Only 65 people out of the 862 passengers and crew on board have survived so far.
The rescue operation has been halted amid worries of a looming environmental hazard as a cargo of 10-metric-ton highly toxic pesticide was found trapped inside the overturned ferry.
PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said the retrieval of massive toxic chemical will start before September as the U.S.-headquartered Titan Salvage Corporation has agreed to mobilize resources for the salvage.
"The Chinese equipment will be sent to augment the oil spill boom that is now rigged around the vessel in the event that the fuel oil leaks out from the ferry oil tank," Balilo said.
He said part of the equipments will also be used in monitoring potential spill-out of fuel oil from two other sunken ships in the sweep of typhoon Fengshen that downed M/V Princess of the Stars.
"China and the Philippines are close neighbors, so close that we are tied together in the event of typhoons. We feel sad about the suffering of the Filipino people in natural catastrophes and would like to join the rescue efforts within our capacities," said Hudson Wong, second secretary of the commerce section of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, who witnessed Thursday's hand-over.
Wong said Chinese government is now the No. 1 donator to the Philippines in terms of humanitarian materials and is still willing to expand its assistance.