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 had been hospitalized on the Canary Islands.

The large ship departs from Lagos, according to the 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 have 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 an online 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.”

The migration route from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands is one of the most dangerous in the world.

In September, Santana estimated that around 1,000 migrants had died or disappeared trying to reach the Spanish archipelago this year.

As of Nov. 15, nearly 15,000 migrants have made it to the Canary Islands by sea this year, down 18% from the same time in 2021, according to Spain’s Interior Ministry.

Most make the long journey from West Africa on small rafts, a growing number of which are inflatable.

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