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163 Filipino crew of stranded cruise ship in Norway all safe: DFA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019

Helicopters hover above the Viking Sky cruise ship as passengers are airlifted from the vessel that was stranded off Norway. | Courtesy: CHC Helicopter through Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to closely monitor the rescue operations for the passengers of a cruise ship that was stranded off the coast of Norway.

In a statement on Sunday (March 24), the DFA said all 163 Filipino crew members of the cruise ship, Viking Sky, are safe and are helping in the evacuation of passengers

“The Philippine Embassy in Oslo, which is in touch with Viking Cruises and the Norwegian Rescue Center, reported that the ship’s 163 Filipino crew members are all safe and are helping evacuate passengers,” the DFA added.

Passengers also praised the efficiency and helpfulness of the ship’s Filipino crew in the evacuation, the Philippine Embassy in Norway said.

On Saturday, the Viking Sky sent a distress signal off the coast of Norway after it encountered engine problems in rough seas that caused it to drift toward the rocky shore.   

479 people, mostly senior citizens, were airlifted by Rescue Services. Some 20 passengers had been taken to hospital while others only suffered minor injuries, the Viking Cruise ship management said.

There were 1,373 passengers aboard the luxury ship the but none were Filipinos, the DFA said.

Report from Norwegian authorities said the luxury ship had restarted and is now moving at a slow pace. Tug boats are currently trying to move the Viking Sky to shore as three of the cruise ship’s four engines working. – Robie de Guzman

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Soviet sub that sank off Norway in 1989 still emitting radiation

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Remote controlled robot taking measurements/ “smoke” seen near submarine ventilation hole under water | Courtesy: Reuters

A Soviet nuclear submarine which sank off Norway in 1989 is still emitting radiation, researchers said on Wednesday (July 10) following an expedition that used a remotely controlled vehicle for the first time.

The Komsomolets sank in on April 7, 1989 after a fire broke out on board, killing 42 crew. The wreck now lies at a depth of about 1,700 metres (5,577 feet) at the bottom of the Norwegian Sea, to the southwest of Bear Island in the Arctic.

Authorities have conducted yearly expeditions to monitor radiation levels since the 1990s but this year’s inspection was the first one to use a remotely operated vehicle called Aegir 6000 to film the wreckage and take samples which will be further analysed.

The scientific mission’s samples show levels of radioactivity at the site up to 800,000 higher than normal, the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority said in a statement.

“This is of course a higher level than we would usually measure out at sea but the levels we have found now are not alarming,” said expedition leader Hilde Elise Heldal of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.

Radioactivity levels “thin out” quickly at these depths and there are few fish in the area, she said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Ilze Filks)

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Three Filipino tourists jailed in Hong Kong

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Courtesy : Photoville International

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed giving assistance to three Filipino tourists who were sentenced to five-month imprisonment in Hong Kong for using forged documents.

According the DFA, the three call center employees were involved in a supposed “free Hong Kong tour” which turned out to be a scam.

They opened bank accounts, specifically with Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank, using falsified documents.

Despite successfully opening an account, authorities suspected that the accounts were to be used for money laundering activities and so arrested the three when they returned to the bank.

“Consul General Antonio Morales reported that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has been providing in-kind support and legal advice to the three Filipinos, including jail visits to ascertain their condition,” the DFA said.

Sentenced on February 18, the three Filipinos pleaded guilty to two counts of “using a false instrument” before the Hong Kong Magistrates’ Courts.

For this, Morales said the three are expected to be released in March after serving a reduced sentence for admitting the offense.

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OFW falls to death in Morocco after row with employer – DFA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

A female Filipino worker died after falling from a third-floor apartment in Morocco, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday (June 24).

In a statement, the DFA said the Filipino died from injuries she sustained shortly after falling on Saturday.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs expresses its condolences to the family of a Filipina who fell to her death in Morocco on Saturday,” the department said in a statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, which has jurisdiction over Morocco, said the Filipina fell to her death while reportedly trying to escape from her employer’s apartment in Casablanca.

“Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato said the victim reportedly had an argument with her employer and then tried to escape using pieces of garment she tied together,” the DFA said.

The department added that authorities have already taken the employer into custody pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

A consular team has also been deployed to Morocco for the repatriation of the victim’s remains.

“The Embassy has dispatched a consular team to Casablanca to coordinate with authorities and arrange for the repatriation of the victim,” the DFA said.

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