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Philippines to conduct final assessment on reef damage by stuck U.S. minesweeper


20:32, April 01, 2013

MANILA, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Philippine divers are set to conduct their final dive to determine the extent of the damage caused by the grounding of the United States Navy ship on Tubbataha Reef off Sulu Sea, a senior government official said Monday.

"The next step now that it's fully extricated, a final dive will have to be conducted to see the extent of the damage and we' ll go from there," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news briefing.

The final dive would help the government determine the claims that it would press from the United States, she said.

The last piece of the stuck USS Guardian was lifted from the UNESCO World Heritage site on Saturday. The vessel was cut into pieces to lessen the damage that the ship could incur on the corals.

Based on the initial dives conducted by a composite team led by the Philippine Coast Guard, 4,000 square meters of corals were destroyed since the U.S. minesweeper ran aground there on Jan. 17 while enroute to its next port of call.

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