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Australia pledges nearly $150,000 aid for oil spill victims

September 18, 2006

AUSTRALIA is contributing 196,000 Australian dollars (147,400 US dollars) in emergency aid to the Philippines following a major oil spill that displaced thousands of residents and damaged pristine marine environments, the Australian Embassy said Monday.

The aid package was pledged after the tanker, Solar I, sank in rough seas off the central Philippines’ Guimaras island province on August 11, spilling some of its 500,000 gallons of industrial fuel oil and forcing 39,000 people from their homes.

The fund will be used to provide shelter, food and school supplies for children in the worst-affected areas. The money would also be used to fund day care centers, tents for temporary shelters, medicine, water and sanitation equipment, an embassy statement said.

The oil spill has affected residents in 58 villages of Guimaras and the nearby province of Iloilo, and threatens 37 more towns in Iloilo and two other provinces, according to the latest figures released by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

The spill has damaged 1,143 hectares (2,824 acres) of marine reserve, 234 kilometers (145 miles) of coastline, 478 hectares (1,181 acres) of mangroves and nearly 16 square kilometers (6 square miles) of coral reef, the NDCC said.

The agency said some 68.65 million pesos (1.35 million dollars) have been spent so far to assist displaced residents and to clean up the environment. There was no immediate estimate available of the total cost of clean-up operations. Associated Press

(From INQ7.net, Sept. 18, 2006.)

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