An 8-year-old boy suffered head injuries when he fell into a 328-foot-deep volcanic sinkhole crater in the Galápagos Islands.
The French boy had been visiting Los Gemelos, a pair of craters on Santa Cruz Island, with his family when the July 7 incident took place, Galápagos National Park said in a statement.
“The details of the fall are still unknown, but fortunately the quick action of rescuers trained for these emergencies managed to pull him out of the bottom of the more than 100 meters [328 feet] crater,” park officials said in a Facebook post.
The boy received multiple injuries to his face and head and was quickly transferred to Santa Cruz’s Republic of Ecuador Hospital for examination, according to the EFE news agency.
Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands receive over 200,000 visitors annually, according to park officials. Los Gemelos (“The Twins”) are two large craters in the upper region of Santa Cruz, separated only by a narrow highway.
The twin craters were formed by the collapse of surface material over the two underground chambers, according to Galápagos National Park. These chambers are thought to have been caused by ancient volcanic activity on the island.
Santa Cruz Island was formed from a dormant shield volcano. Scientists do not know for sure when this volcano last erupted, but evidence suggests it may have been a few thousand years ago, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. This volcanic activity likely laid the groundwork, quite literally, for the formation of the twin craters.
As lava pours out of an active volcano, it carves deep ridges down the volcano’s flanks through which the hot liquid is channeled. These can crust over, creating underground tunnels, called lava tubes, that are left as empty, underground caverns when the eruption stops.
Over time, the volcanic surface material erodes and can eventually collapse, creating large sinkholes like Los Gemelos.
The boy is in stable condition, EFE said, and will be transferred to a hospital in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil for further examination.
The director of the Santa Cruz hospital, Boris Daza, told local media it was “something miraculous” that the boy was not more severely injured.