Government says a diesel spill in the Galapagos Islands is contained following barge capsize

Dec 23, 2019 | 9 comments

Ecuador declared a state of emergency Sunday when a barge loaded with 600 gallons of diesel fuel capsized at a dock in the Galapagos Islands. The spill occurred when a crane collapsed onto the barge at a port on San Cristobal Island.

A crane collapses on the desk of a barge Sunday on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands.

On Monday morning, Ecuador’s environmental ministry said that the spill had been contained. “Coast Guard staff and volunteers have successfully deployed barriers and absorbent cloths to keep the fuel from spreading,” the ministry said in a statement. “We feel confident that the environment damage will be minimal based on the quick action of those on site.”

It was not immediately clear how much of the 600 gallons of fuel actually leaked into the water, but photos posted on Twitter on Sunday by Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment showed officials with the Galápagos National Park and the country’s Coast Guard working to contain the spill.

All members of the barge crew jumped off the capsizing barge and swam to safety.

Dramatic video of the crane collapse shows workers trying to load a shipping container onto what appears to be a relatively small vessel called the Orca. As the crane hoists the container over the ship, the container comes crashing down onto the Orca, pulling the crane with it. The crane tumbles over the Orca and into the water, and the ship flips onto its side as people on board dive into the water.

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San Cristobal is easternmost island of the Galapagos chain and one of the five inhabited islands in the archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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