After the shipwreck of the Angy cabotage boat in which four people died – two Ecuadorians and two foreigners – there is concern about the impact that the incident may bring to tourism, an activity from which 85% of the inhabitants live directly and indirectly. of the Galapagos Islands.
The incident occurred on Sunday, September 25, while the boat was covering the Isla Isabela-Santa Cruz route. In this case, at least five contraventions registered in the Organic Law of Navigation, Management, Security and Maritime Protection would have been committed. One of them, according to versions of the passengers, is that the boat was sailing with faulty engines.
How the responsibilities for the sinking of a boat in the Galapagos Islands will be investigated
Ángel Yánez, mayor of Santa Cruz, indicated that, of the two members of the crew, the sailor has already given his version to the Prosecutor’s Office; not so the captain, of whom it is unofficially known that he would be a fugitive.
“We have him as missing, because he was not on the list of people who rescued him. But, based on the versions of the passengers that we were able to collect, they indicate that the captain jumped to the ground; then, he would practically be a fugitive, but we cannot give that version as long as it is not official by the Prosecutor’s Office, ”he commented.
He added that since Sunday the Police have carried out raids to find the whereabouts of the man and that he render his statement in the first instance.
According to Yánez, the boat had permission to transport passengers, that is, cabotage; however, the captain presumably had a loan license plate (authorization to pilot the boat).
“We have a control of passengers who enter and leave the Galapagos by air to the continent and vice versa; and, in that control, the captain of the boat was in Guayaquil”, he pointed out.
Another of the infractions known in the case is that the boat, with capacity for 32 passengers, apparently carried 39 (fourteen national and foreign tourists), that is, it was sailing with an excess of people. The search tasks ended on Monday 26, at 13:00. Those rescued alive were referred to health homes and have already been discharged.
On Tuesday the 27th they returned to their places of origin, while the bodies of the four victims were transferred to Quito and Guayaquil.
The mayor of Santa Cruz believes that this accident should serve as a precedent so that each authority assumes its responsibilities and that a similar incident, which mainly affects tourism, is not repeated. The official said that he knows that the United States embassy is already alerting citizens of that country to be more careful when traveling to Galapagos.
”That, obviously, is going to affect us, because the United States is the largest number of tourists who come to Galapagos. And we hope that in the coming months it will not affect us,” said the official, adding that tourism is being reactivated on the islands by 80% after the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Yánez, in this case there were “irregularities” in terms of the control carried out by the port captaincy, since said instance – he said – supervises the captain’s registration, boat documents, number of passengers, navigation instruments (life jackets and fuel), among other things.
The boat had three engines, but they failed. The National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces (Dirnea), an entity of the Navy, associated these failures and fuel problems with the mishap suffered by the boat.
‘If the boat had had vests, those lives would have been saved’: one of the passengers of the boat that sank in Galapagos tells what she experienced during the mishap
According to said instance, the crew only notified the owner about the fuel and repair of the engines, but did not call the maritime authority or the ECU911. Only when they were lost did they notify ECU911 of the emergency, Dirnea said.
Hence, in addition to the process initiated ex officio by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Navy appointed two commissions specialized in maritime safety for the investigation of the shipwreck.
Paola Solís, a psychologist who lives in Puerto Ayora, cantonal head of Santa Cruz, provided emotional support to several passengers who suffered the mishap. She considered that, so that mishaps like this are not repeated, the legal sanctions should be applied to the institutions responsible for the controls and assistance, since in her opinion there was negligence.
“Here it is very important to determine the lack of an effective response that would have prevented the misfortune, because there were many opportunities for this not to happen and there was no response,” he said, adding that the existing laws and protocols that govern inter-island passenger transport is rigorously enforced. (YO)