At least four people died and several were still missing after an Ecuadorian boat sank off the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, Ecuadorian officials said Monday. Three Israelis were among the dozens rescued.
Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Ministry initially identified the casualties as two Ecuadorans, a Colombian and an American-Israeli.
However, Channel 12 quoted the Israeli Foreign Ministry as denying the report, saying the US citizen who had been killed did not hold an Israeli passport.
The Ecuadorian ministry said it was working with the consulates of those countries to “provide all the necessary support.”
The names of the victims were not immediately released.
There were 37 people aboard the boat, including three Israeli citizens and foreign citizens from Germany, Spain, the United States and Switzerland, a local official said.
Reports indicated that four passengers were still missing and that 30 people, including the Israeli passengers, were safely rescued by emergency services.
The boat was ferrying passengers between Santa Cruz and Isabela island, the emergency services said.
“Sea conditions were difficult yesterday, which could explain the accident,” Angel Yanez, mayor of Santa Cruz island, which is part of the archipelago, told local media.
Local television channel Teleamazonas said the boat had run out of fuel and suffered mechanical problems.
But others have pointed the finger at the crew, saying the boat may have carried more passengers than allowed. The Santa Cruz port captain’s office said most of those aboard the boat had not been wearing lifejackets and that the boat was sailing too fast.
The archipelago, located some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador, is a Natural World Heritage site and an important draw for tourists — famed as an inspiration for English naturalist Charles Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution.