In an action protesting oil drilling in the Canary Islands, one Greenpeace activist was left seriously injured, yesterday, as protesters clashed with the Spanish Navy.
Twenty-three year old Italian activist, Matilda Brunetti suffered a broken leg when she was hit and thrown from the her dinghy boat, yesterday, as it was rammed by a navy rhib attempting to protect an oil-drilling vessel near the Spanish archipelago.
The rhib, a fast rigid hull inflatable boat, collided with the Greenpeace dinghy that was moving toward the oil ship in what appears to be a deliberate collision on the part of the Spanish Navy.
The Spanish government maintains that the activists were planning on boarding the oil ship, and that it was in place to prevent the harassment of the oil drilling vessel.
The protest aimed to bring attention to the growing threat of oil drilling in the coastal waters of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
Despite a proposed referendum on oil drilling in the region from the Canary Islands’ government, in August the Spanish government gave approval for oil group Respol to begin a $7 billion oil exploration project in the region.
The project has faced strong opposition from the islands’ authorities, environmentalists and citizens, who warn that drilling would have damaging consequences, and that vibrations from exploration and a potential oil spill could threaten the region’s unique marine biodiversity and jeopardise tourism.
Respol said the oil vessel targeted by Greenpeace was intended to start drilling on Tuesday.
Yesterday’s dramatic events were caught on camera, and Brunetti’s screams could be heard over the noise of the other vessels.
Once thrown into the water, the 23-year-old activist received further wounds from the Navy ship’s propeller cutting her leg.
Brunetti was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands where she is now recovering from her injuries.
In addition three other Greenpeace activists were also injured, although their injuries were considered minor.
Greenpeace plans to maintain their position in the vicinity of the oil ship, holding an obligation to protect the environment in the face of an operation that they believe could cause significant damage to the region.