Freighter bound for Galápagos sinks near Ecuadorian mainland

SCristobal-eThe freighter San Cristobal carrying 1,200 tons of cargo for the Galapagos islands sank 25 miles South West of Santa Elena point in the early hours of November 17th according to the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.  A search and rescue mission was launched and the 14 crew members are safe.

In Galápagos, the news of this new wreck was  received with great concern. On May 9, 2014 another freighter, the Galapaface I, ran aground in San Cristobal island.  With two freighters out of comision the four inhabited islands face possible shortages of vital supplies.

“Galápagos  receives up to 9,000 tons of supplies by ship each month,” said the Mayor of Santa Cruz Leopoldo Bucheli in an interview with Diego Añazco of Ecuador TV, and he added,  “This time the sunken ship carried 1,200 tons with an estimated value of US$10 million. The national government must provide other freighters and provisionally transport perishable food supplies by air.”

He further indicated that the vessel carried  two vehicles and supplies to paint stripes on the streets and highways of the island.

For businessmen who were still reeling from the losses experienced in the wreck of the Galapaface I, this new sinking is a severe blow. According to  Jason Gallardo, owner of a hardware store in Santa Cruz, “some small business owners went into bankruptcy,” he said, “because their cargo was not insured.”

The governor of Galápagos, Jorge Torres, held a meeting with business owners in San Cristobal and tried to reassure them that they would be compensated for their losses.  He also said a new freighter, the Paola, was being readied to provide service to the islands.

Torres also warned that merchants should not use this as an excuse to raise prices. He said authorities will be on the alert for instances of price gouging.

The Galapagos Provincial Government and the Ministry of Transportation have issued statements regarding efforts to find provisional and long term solutions.   The Ecuadorian Coast Guard  is initiating an  investigation as to the causes of the sinking of the San Cristobal  as well as instituting security  measures to prevent contamination of the area due to fuel leakage and possible navigational risks to other vessels caused by the shipwreck and the cargo.