The three men rescued by the Spanish Coast Guard after 11 days at sea appeared to be showing symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia.
Three stowaways traveling for 11 days on the helm of a ship have been rescued by the Spanish Coast Guard and hospitalized in the Canary Islands, Spanish authorities have said.
The large vessel had left Lagos, Nigeria on November 17, according to ship tracking website Marine Traffic, and the men were rescued on Monday.
Found on the tanker Alithini II at the port of Las Palmas, the men appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred to hospitals on the island for medical treatment, Spain’s Salvamento Marítimo said.
Throughout the journey, at least three migrants and refugees had clung to the narrow metal rudder, their feet dangling just meters above the Atlantic Ocean.
In a photograph from the Spanish Coastguard posted on Twitter on Monday, the three men are seen perched on the rudder of the tanker.
The Coast Guard said it rescued the stowaways after the tanker docked.
Although extremely dangerous, this is not the first time that stowaways have traveled on the helm of commercial ships to the Canary Islands, located about 97 km (60 miles) off the coast of Morocco.
At the end of 2020, the Spanish authorities identified six other people from Nigeria on the rudders of two oil tankers.
One of those who arrived in 2020 was a 14-year-old boy who told of his harrowing two-week journey to the Spanish daily El País.
He described how 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 scuffle and he was nearly thrown off the helm; how they got cold and wet and took hours to dry out; how his urine turned green after drinking seawater.
In a tweet, Canary Islands migration adviser Txema Santana warned that the most recent arrivals “will not be the last” and that “stowaways don’t always have the same luck”.
The migration route from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands is one of the most dangerous in the world.
In September, Santana estimated that around 1,000 migrants and refugees had died or gone missing trying to reach the Spanish archipelago this year.
As of November 15, nearly 15,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in the Canary Islands by sea this year, down 18% from the same period in 2021, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry. Most make the long journey from West Africa on small rafts, an increasing number of which are inflatable.