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Officials: Weeks to rescue Galapagos-stranded ship

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Photo - This Friday, May 9, 2014 photo, released by Galapagos National Park, shows the freighter Galapaface I that ran aground in the bay adjacent to San Cristobal island, in the Galapagos Islands. Ecuadorean authorities said Friday, May 16, 2014, they have offloaded all the fuel and most of the cargo from the freighter, and it will take three to four weeks to refloat and rescue the ship. (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park)
This Friday, May 9, 2014 photo, released by Galapagos National Park, shows the freighter Galapaface I that ran aground in the bay adjacent to San Cristobal island, in the Galapagos Islands. Ecuadorean authorities said Friday, May 16, 2014, they have offloaded all the fuel and most of the cargo from the freighter, and it will take three to four weeks to refloat and rescue the ship. (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park)
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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorean authorities said Friday they have offloaded all but 1 percent of the fuel and most of the cargo from a freighter that ran aground in the Galapagos Islands, and it will take three to four weeks to refloat and rescue the ship.

Galapagos National Park director Arturo Izurieta also told The Associated Press that it will cost about $6 million to salvage the 2,300-metric ton Galapaface 1.

He said 19,000 gallons of fuel had been removed from the ship and that it is very difficult to safely extract the remaining fuel and lubricants without specialized equipment.

The ship ran aground last week in the bay adjacent to San Cristobal, the second-most populated island of the Galapagos, with a cargo of food and other supplies. Any possible environmental disaster was largely averted with the removal of its fuel.

Izurieta said about 1,000 tons of water have filled the lower decks.

The Galapagos' unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. They are a major tourist attraction.

The government declared an emergency Thursday to enable the quick release of the funds necessary to complete the removal of the freighter without causing environmental damage.

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