Tourists and crew rescued in Galapagos after boat sinks

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

The Navy said it activated a fuel spill contingency plan, but the Galapagos National Park ruled out the possibility in a statement because “the diesel it was running on was consumed during the fire.” He said environment 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, are a magnet for ecotourism. It was declared a natural World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its diversity of plants and animals, which inspired Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution.

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