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Ecuador declares emergency over cargo ship run aground in Galapagos Islands

"The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area," said Governor Jorge Torres.

By Brooks Hays
Ecuador declares emergency over cargo ship run aground in Galapagos Islands
The grounded ship, Galapaface I, remains a threat to the ecosystem, Ecuador officials say. (Galapagos National Park)

BAQUERIZO MORENO, Ecuador, May 16 (UPI) -- Officials in Ecuador have declared an emergency, as a large cargo ship that ran aground last week remains idled in the Galapagos Islands -- a threat to the region's fragile ecosystem.

Last Friday, the freighter, Galapaface I, miscalculated and ran out of deep water, colliding with the rocky coast of San Cristobal Island. The ship was carrying more than 15,400 gallons of diesel fuel and several tons of cargo. While most of the oil and cargo has been removed, the ship is still full of other pollutants, like motor oil, that officials worry could leak into the water as the freighter continues to sink.

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"The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area," Governor Jorge Torres told the Efe news agency.

A press statement released by Ecuador officials confirmed that the emergency, which will grant additional funding to clean up efforts, will remain in place for six months.

In 2001, an oil tanker wrecked and spilled 800,000 gallons of fuel into the ocean. The pollution proved fatal to many marine iguanas in the area.

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The Galapagos are a World Heritage Site, protected for their unique species and biodiversity. The islands were made famous by Charles Darwin who visited them in 1835 and studied the brids and reptiles, which helped inspire his theory of evolution and his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species.

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