A devastating 600-gallon oil spill has occurred in the Galapagos Islands — a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet.
The heart-pounding caught-on-camera spill off the coast of Ecuador happened Sunday morning when a crane loading a diesel container onto a local cargo vessel tipped over, causing the boat to overturn, CNN reported.
Sailors can be seen diving to safety as the crane plummets into the water with the driver still inside, bringing the cargo ship and the giant container of fuel down with it.
No one was injured, authorities said.
Emergency teams and the Ecuadorian military are now working to control the spill around San Cristobal Island, erecting containment barriers and absorbents cloths sent from Santa Cruz to reduce the environmental risk.
Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno on Monday declared that the spill was under control, but local authorities still described the situation as an emergency and ordered an investigation.
San Cristobal Island is home to sea lions and the region’s famed tortoises, which are the largest in the world.
The Galapagos archipelago of volcanic islands is home to many species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.
Charles Darwin visited the islands in the 1830s — and his research on Galapagos was crucial to the famed theory of natural selection he later developed.
The spill has alarmed environmental groups, who have been increasingly vocal about the region’s fragile ecosystem coming under threat from tourism.
On Twitter, environmental group SOS Galapagos said the disaster was the result of an “illegal and dangerous logistics operation” and called for the port to be moved to another site.