Mon | Jan 30, 2023

Stowaways found on a ship’s rudder in Spain’s Canary Islands

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2022 | 8:47 AM
In this photo released by Spain's Maritime Safety and Rescue Society on Tuesday, November 29, 2022, three men are photographed on an oil tanker anchored in the port of the Canary Islands, Spain. Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it has rescued three stowaways traveling on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria. The men were found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port. (Salvamento Maritimo via AP)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain's Maritime Rescue Service says it has rescued three stowaways found on a ship's rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria.

The men, found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port, appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred to hospitals on the island for medical attention, Spain's Salvamento Marítimo said.

The agency shared a photo of the three men sitting on top of the rudder under the ship's massive hull with their feet hanging only a few centimetres (inches) from the water.

According to the MarineTraffic website which tracks ships, the Malta-flagged vessel left Lagos, Nigeria on November 17 and arrived in Las Palmas on Monday after an 11-day journey.

The distance is roughly 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles).

Though extremely dangerous, it is not the first time stowaways have been found risking their lives to reach Spain's Canary Islands off Northwest Africa in this way.

In 2020 a 14-year-old Nigerian boy was interviewed by Spain's El País newspaper after surviving two weeks on a ship's rudder, at the mercy of bad weather and rough seas. He had also departed from Lagos.

Thousands of migrants and refugees from North and West Africa have reached the Canary Islands irregularly in recent years. Most make the dangerous Atlantic crossing on crowded boats after departing from the coast of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and even Senegal.

More than 11,600 people have reached the Spanish islands by boat so far this year, according to figures released by Spain's Interior Ministry.

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