QUITO – The Ecuadorian navy and Galapagos National Park personnel rescued 24 people aboard a yacht that ran aground in the Galapagos Islands, officials said Thursday.
The Alta grounded on the small island of Camaño, across from Santa Cruz Island, according to park management, which said the boat’s eight-person crew and 16 Canadian passengers were safe and sound.
“Weather conditions and strong waves in the area did not allow the work to be done to remove the 3,500 gallons of fuel in the storage tanks, whose total fuel capacity is 7,000 gallons, or to try to save the vessel,” the park administration said.
A team of rangers headed to the shipwreck early Thursday in a speedboat to evaluate possible environmental damage and gauge the vessel’s condition.
The Alta, a 46-meter (150-foot) craft, is operated in the Galapagos Islands by Quasar Nautica S.A., which “will be responsible for removing the wreckage and for the environmental mitigation measures necessary,” Galapagos National Park said.
The islands are located about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of the coast of Ecuador and were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations there contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.
Some 95 percent of the territory’s 8,000 sq. kilometers (more than 3,000 sq. miles) constitutes a protected area that is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds found nowhere else on the planet.
Galapagos National Park was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1978, and in 1984 the islands became a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. EFE