Three stowaways survive 11-day Atlantic journey to Spain on ship’s rudder

Las Palmas, Spain, Nov 29 (EFE).- Three African men survived a 11-day journey hidden on top of the rudder of an oil tanker that sailed non-stop from Lagos, Nigeria to Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, Spain’s coast guard has said.

The three stowaways were disembarked and received urgent care at the port, and were later taken to two different hospitals for treatment for moderate dehydration.

A Spanish government source told Efe on Tuesday that as they had arrived as stowaways, they are not legally considered migrants and will not be allowed ashore. They will be returned to the ship for the crew to take care of them until it returns to Nigeria.

Two of them are already on board the tanker, with the third following once he leaves hospital.

The three of them were hidden aboard the Alithini II, from Malta, which sailed from Lagos on November 17.

An image provided by Salvamento Marítimo on Monday night shows where they were found: a small space under the stern where the rudder fits into the hull, just above the water line.

“It is a place that is not suitable for a person and at the sea, the risk is to lose one’s life. The risk is maximum,” Sofía Hernández, head of Salvamento Marítimo told Efe.

Hernández highlighted that this was not the first case, with several similar examples since 2018, including four in 2020 alone, when 15 people, including one minor, were rescued.

Spanish journalist and migration advisor to the Canary Islands government, Txema Santana, issued a statement on Twitter in which he warned that the ongoing migration crisis would see more similarly dangerous crossing attempts.

“This is not the first time and it will not be the last,” he said. “Stowaways are not always this lucky.” EFE


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