MANILA (Reuters) – Thousands of prisoners have been shaving their heads and chests to donate hair to help mop up the Philippines’ worst oil spill, officials said on Wednesday.

The collection was in response to a nationwide drive by the government to amass tonnes of hair and feathers to absorb more than 200,000 liters of industrial fuel that leaked from a tanker when it sank off the central island of Guimaras on August 11.

A Japanese salvage ship was expected to arrive later on Wednesday to help determine the exact location and condition of the 998-tonne Solar 1 under about 640 meters (2,100 feet) of water, Coast Guard chief Arthur Gosingan said.

The 15,000 inmates at a maximum security prison in southern Manila, including 1,000 on death row, began donating hair on Tuesday as health officials ordered the evacuation of residents of a fishing village on Guimaras due to health risks.

“We’re collecting plenty of hair to send to Guimaras to solve the oil spill problem,” Vergilio Santos, 42, who is serving a murder sentence at New Bilibid Prison, told Reuters television after his head was shaved by a barber.

“This is a contribution even though it’s a small part,” said Nigel Richard Gatward, a 37-year-old British national convicted of drug smuggling.

Alternative headline: “Convicts from the Philippines join Al Gore and Pat Robertson in bid to save the Earth.” Okay, that was a cheap shot.

Full article here.

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