Tourists, crew rescued in the Galapagos after boat sinks

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — A boat with 15 tourists and 10 crew members caught fire and sank off the Galapagos Islands on Wednesday, but Ecuadorian authorities said all aboard were rescued.

The Ecuadorian navy in a statement said authorities ordered a nearby vessel to carry out the rescue after the distressed Cormorant I reported a fire in the engine room. The boat, which had passed all technical inspections this year, sank around 7 a.m.

The nationality of the tourists was not immediately clear. The navy said they were being taken to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island for medical care.

The navy said it had activated a contingency plan in the event of a fuel spill, but the Galapagos National Park in a statement ruled out that possibility because “the diesel with which it operated was consumed during the fire.” It said environmental officials will still conduct an on-site inspection.

A dive boat sank in the archipelago two weeks ago, spilling diesel into the sea..

The Galapagos, located about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the Ecuadorian coast, is a magnet for ecological tourism. It was declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its diversity of plants and animals, which helped inspire Charles Darwin to elaborate the theory of evolution.

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