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Residents flee toxic chemicals from oil spill

August 31, 2006

LA PAZ, Guimaras – Hundreds of residents on the blackened coasts of Guimaras Island were being evacuated Thursday amid fears of toxic fumes unleashed by the Philippines’ worst oil spill, officials said.

Beaches were being cordoned off and residents of La Paz and nearby villages were being told to move inland after two weeks spent battling the black ooze from the Solar I tanker that sank on August 11.

The orders were issued by Guimaras Gov. Rahman Nava based on warnings issued by toxicologists commissioned by the health department, said Ramon Ortiz, a La Paz official who manned a checkpoint outside the village.

The fishing hamlet of about 400 people was almost deserted at noon as Ortiz, armed with a machete and a protective face mask and aided by other district officials, flagged down motorists to enforce the order.

At the community basketball court, blue tarp partly covered a huge stack of sacks laden with oil-slicked sand and debris.

The pile, which Ortiz said weighed about 100 tons, was oozing with a sticky asphalt-colored fluid under the brutal heat of the tropical sun.

(For the full story, click Ick.)

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