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'Crising' halts salvage operations for US minesweeper

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday said that the bad weather caused by tropical depression "Crising" is preventing the salvage operations for the US minesweeper, USS Guardian, stuck on the Tubbataha Reef in Sulu Sea.

Lt. Commander Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said that crane ship Jascon 25 is still being buffeted by strong waves and wind prevailing over the Sulu Sea.

Balilo added that the salvage operation for the stuck US minesweeper on the Tubbataha Reef is also being hampered by poor visibility in the area.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier said that as of 10 a.m, the tropical depression slowed down while crossing the Sulu Sea.

The storm will move nearer to Palawan province on Thursday morning and will remain within the vicinity of its territorial waters until the afternoon.

Task Force Tubbataha head Commodore Enrico Evangelista said that the despite the weather, Jascon 25 will stay within the Tubbataha area.

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Evangelista said that the salvage operations will resume as soon as the weather clears.

He said that there is still no change in the timetable to remove the US minesweeper from the reef by March 23.

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