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Three men rescued from tanker's rudder after 11 days at sea

The Spanish Coast guard has rescued three stowaways found sitting on the rudder of a ship after an 11-day journey from Nigeria, Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Spanish Coast Guard/Twitter
The Spanish Coast guard has rescued three stowaways found sitting on the rudder of a ship after an 11-day journey from Nigeria, Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Spanish Coast Guard/Twitter

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The Spanish Coast guard has rescued three stowaways found sitting on the rudder of a ship after an 11-day journey from Nigeria, Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

A photo shared on Twitter by Spain's Maritime Safety and Rescue Society shows the three men cramped together on the rudder of the massive oil tanker, less than three feet above the water line.

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The Maltese-flagged Alithini II arrived on Monday at the port of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands after departing from Nigeria.

After they were rescued, the three men were taken to the hospital and treated for dehydration.

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Authorities haven't made it clear if the three men were on the rudder for the entire 11-day voyage, which spanned over 2,000 miles.

It's also not clear if the three men will be able to apply for political asylum in Spain.

Despite the danger, the route is a popular one for refugees fleeing war-torn parts of Africa.

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Thousands of people attempt to reach the Canary Islands from West Africa each year.

In October 2020, four people stowed away on the rudder of an oil tanker from Lagos, hiding for 10 days before they were discovered as the vessel arrived in Las Palmas.

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The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration recorded 1,126 deaths on the route last year, a sharp increase from the year before. The organization says the actual number of deaths is likely much higher.

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There are multiple reports of human remains washing ashore along the Atlantic coast of Western Africa or frequently being caught up in the trawl nets of fishing vessels.

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