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style="margin-left:10px" border="0" title="Courtesy of Ecoventura">
(12:00 p.m. EST) -- Before his New Year Day's medical evacuation from the Galapagos Islands, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had been traveling on Letty, a 20-guest yacht operated by Ecoventura, an expedition cruise company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
According to the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador, the crew of the Letty called the Regional Bureau of Insular Aquatic Spaces for help after the Seattle billionaire suffered medical distress from pain caused by kidney stones. The office contacted the Naval base in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, and their doctors were transferred by sea to Letty, where they examined Bezos.
Originally, the doctors determined that air transport was not needed and Bezos was taken to Santa Cruz. Within 15 minutes of reaching Puerto Ayora, however, his condition worsened and a helicopter was requested to wait in port for transfer to the airport on Baltra Island, where Bezos' private plane was waiting.
“The patient required air evacuation only due to the time of day in order to take off on a private plane,” a spokesperson for the Ministry said in an email.
Letty is one of four vessels in Ecoventura's fleet. Representatives for the company would not comment on whether Bezos had chartered the 10-cabin ship privately or if he was on one of their regular Galapagos cruises. According to the company's website, charter rates range from $86,200 during holidays to $78,400. Doubles on a typical cruise range from $4,700 to $3,900.
As reported earlier, Bezos flew by his plane to the United States for medical care, but did not require surgery for his kidney stones.
There are two hospitals in the Galapagos, one in San Cristobal and one in Santa Cruz, as well as three health sub-centers, the Ministry said. The Santa Cruz hospital - which has 15 beds, one operating room, a delivery room, a 24-hour emergency room and ambulance transfers - does receive severe patients and stabilizes their condition before referring them to the mainland.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
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