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Stowaways who traveled from Nigeria on ship’s rudder hospitalized on Canary Islands

Spanish authorities said Monday night that three stowaways who had clung to the rudder of a tanker that departed from Nigeria have been hospitalized on the Canary Islands.

The large ship departed from Lagos, according to ship-tracking website Marine Traffic. Eleven days later, it arrived at the port of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria.

Throughout the journey, at least three migrants had been hanging onto the narrow metallic rudder, with their feet dangling just a few feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

Spain’s coast guards said they rescued the stowaways after the tanker had docked.

The Canary Islands emergency services reported that the men all suffered from moderate dehydration and needed hospitalization.

They are not the first migrants to have made such a daring journey.

In late 2020, Spanish authorities identified six others traveling from Nigeria on the rudders of two tankers.

One of those who arrived in 2020 was a 14-year-old boy who narrated the harrowing journey to Spanish daily El Pais.

He described how the stowaways had to take turns sleeping because there was enough space for only one person to lie down at a time; how there was a fight and he was nearly thrown off the rudder; how they got cold and wet and it would take hours to dry off; how his urine turned green after drinking seawater.

In a tweet, migration advisor to the Canary Islands Txema Santana warned that the most recent arrivals “won’t be the last” and that “stowaways don’t always have the same luck.”


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