Ecuador declared a state of emergency Sunday after a barge carrying nearly 2,300 liters of diesel fuel sank at the Galapagos Islands.
A crane collapsed while loading fuel onto the ship at a port on San Cristobal, the easternmost island of the Galapagos chain. A heavy container of fuel fell to the deck, causing the barge to go down while the crew jumped overboard for their lives.
Soldiers and environmentalists immediately deployed barriers and absorbent cloths to stop the spilled fuel from spreading. Experts will assess the damage.
The Galapagos, which are part of Ecuador, is a United Nations World Heritage Site and is one of the globe's most fragile ecosystems.
Many of the plant and animal species who live on the islands are found nowhere else in the world.
The island chain is renowned for helping Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution in the mid-19th century.