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Greenpeace: Spanish Navy Rammed Our Boat, Four Hurt

The environmental group said a Spanish naval ship intentionally collided with its dinghy during an oil protest, but the navy disputes that account.
This handout picture released on Nov. 15 by Greenpeace shows the oil exploration vessel Rowan Renaissance in the background as a Greenpeace crew on board a semi-rigid inflatable boat hold a protest placard as they navigate off the coast of Lanzarote a Spanish canary Island.AFP - Getty Images

Spain's navy rammed into a Greenpeace dinghy during a protest in the Atlantic Ocean against oil exploration near the Canary Islands on Saturday, injuring four of its activists, one of them seriously, the environmental organization said.

However, the navy disputed that account. The navy said it dispatched two boats from one of its ships in the area to prevent Greenpeace from boarding a large oil drilling ship and that one of its activists was seriously injured when she fell out of her dinghy and was hit by its propellers.

Speaking by radio-telephone from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the area, Capt. Joel Stewart identified the woman as a 23-year-old Italian activist and said the other three other injuries were minor. The navy said it rushed the activist to a Spanish hospital in a helicopter.

Last month, at the Spanish government's request, the Constitutional Court blocked a proposal by the Canary Islands regional government to hold a referendum on oil exploration in waters off the popular tourist archipelago off northwestern Africa. The government licensed the Spanish energy company Repsol YPF S.A. to begin oil exploration there, and it is doing that now from a large oil drilling ship with a platform.

Image: Spanish Navy members rescue Greenpeace member
A handout video grab made available by Greenpeace on Nov. 15 shows Spanish Navy members rescuing a member of Greenpeace after she was allegedly injured in an incident during a demonstration against drilling activities, in the Canary Islands.GREENPEACE / EPA


— The Associated Press