Manila: Authorities on Sunday raced against time to prevent oil spill from a cargo vessel that sank off the coast of Western Philippines from damaging coastal areas in the province of Antique.

Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Director Alex Preston said in an interview aired over dzXL radio that the cargo vessel Seaford 2 sank off the cost of the village of San Jose in Antique at around 8 am Sunday and the \ vessel's crew of 17, as well as the skipper, were reported safe.

The vessel sank after sustaining damage from an accident of a still undetermined cause.

The Seaford 2 was carrying a cargo of some 47,000 sacks of cement to the port of Culasi in Antique from Iligan City when it was engaged in the mishap.

Initial reports said the vessel had encountered some form of mechanical trouble during the voyage around 3 am, causing the ship to stall, take in water and eventually sink.

At around mid-morning the vessel's skipper gave the order to the crew to abandon ship. The ship and its cargo went down at around 8 am.

Preston said that with the crew already safe, the focus of attention of disaster management officials now is to prevent 7,000 litres of diesel fuel aboard from reaching the nearby shores of San Jose.

The fuel aboard the vessel has the potential of damaging a large area of San Jose's coastline he said.

Preston said the Philippine Coast Guard is conducting an investigation into the incident while discussing with the shipowners steps to take to prevent the oil spill from causing massive damage.