28th January 2023
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Three men survive 11 days on ship’s rudder, from Nigeria to Canary Islands

Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service has said that it has rescued three stowaways found on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria.

The three 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 from the EFE news agency [see Tweet below] of the three men sitting on top of the rudder under the ship’s massive hull.

According to the MarineTraffic website which tracks ships, the Malta-flagged vessel left Lagos, Nigeria on 17 November and arrived in Las Palmas on Monday after an 11-day journey. The distance is roughly 3,000 kilometres.

Whilst 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. 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, the 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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