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Philippines says salvaging US ship should not damage reef

Published on Jan 21, 2013 5:46 PM
This handout file photo taken on Jan 19, 2013, and released on Jan 20, 2013, by Philippine Western Command (WESCOM) shows an aerial shot of US navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, trapped on the Tubbataha reef after it ran aground, in the western island of Palawan.

MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino has given instructions not to allow the US navy to salvage its grounded USS Guardian minesweeper without Philippine involvement, in order to minimise damage to coral reefs, a senior official said on Monday.

The ship, which is stuck on a reef at the Tubbataha natural marine park, a Unesco World Heritage site, had just completed a port call at Subic Bay in the western Philippines when the grounding occurred last Thursday.

Officials said there were no reports of fuel leaking from the vessel. US ships regularly dock in the Philippines for refuelling.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said any salvage operation should be vetted by the Philippines government.

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