A routine boat ride took a tragic turn on Friday, when a large ferry containing 750 passengers collided with a cargo ship and sank in the Philippines. The death toll has risen to 55 and another 65 people are still missing, as divers continue to search for bodies. In addition to the loss of life, the sunken ferry is also an environmental catastrophe, as thousands of gallons of fuel have already leaked into the surrounding waters, creating a massive oil slick.

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Philippines, ferry, sunken ferry, Cebu, Cordova, oil spill

The crystal-clear waters in the Cebu province of the Philippines are known to divers around the world for their beautiful coral reefs. But now the waters are full of oil, prompting Cebu to declare a state of calamity. When it sank, the ferry was carrying 20,000 liters of diesel fuel, 20,000 liters of lube oil, and 120,000 liters of bunker fuel.

Although it is unclear how much oil has leaked from the boat so far, the oil sheen has already spread to Cordova, a resort community known for its seafood restaurants on the southern coast of Mactan Island. “We have no livelihood now because no one will buy the fish we haul, with a lot of bodies still in the water and oil in the sea,” Ernesto Cabiso, a Cordova fisherman, told Reuters.

The ferry was owned and operated by 2GO Group, and the company has brought in experts from abroad to help clean up the oil. Authorities have been using chemicals to disperse the oil, which is likely to further contaminate the water.

via Reuters and CNN