About 30 people on a small boat in the Galapagos Islands had to jump off into shark-filled waters last month after a fire broke out on board, “Good Morning America” and Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC report. The ordeal was also caught on video.
Sixteen passengers and 11 crew members, some of whom reportedly did not know how to swim, were forced to make the difficult decision once smoke filled their vessel and they could no longer breathe. Making their decision scarier was the knowledge that some passengers had seen sharks earlier in the day.
“We have to jump in,” someone can be heard saying in the chaotic video.
“It was a perfect trip until the last night when the boat caught on fire,” KABC News producer Lisa Bartley, who happened to be on the boat, told “Good Morning America.”
Fellow passenger Dana Kirk told “GMA,'” “All hell broke loose, smoke filled the boat, they told us there was a fire in the engine. She also told KABC, “I didn’t know if I was supposed to stay on board a burning boat or jump into the water with sharks.”
Other passengers included a future bride and groom and their families, plus a family from the San Francisco area.
The El Nino Effect has become stronger in recent years, and has started to alter the ecosystem on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. (Photo: NASA)
They were stuck treading water in life jackets in the water for more than an hour.
Guide Malena Cruz had told the group to swim toward the island and look for a lighthouse.
“Oh, I’m doing good…bit chilly,” passenger Naomi Davidson also said in the video.
Eventually, they were able to climb into life rafts which hadn’t been working initially.
“Once we got on the life raft, I knew we were going to be safe,” Kirk added. They were stuck there for over two-and-a-half hours until a ship answered their SOS call.
Everyone was grateful to the crew, one of whom gave up his sweatshirt to keep another member of the group warm.
“There’s just some really fantastic people in the world,” Kirk told KABC.
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