Three Nigerians who landed in the Spanish archipelago of the Canaries on Monday after spending 11 days at sea hidden on the rudder of an oil tanker have finally been able to apply for asylum, the Spanish authorities announced on Wednesday.
The tanker will therefore be able to leave without them, according to the prefecture of the Canary Islands, located off the coast of Africa.
The Spanish authorities had said on Tuesday that the three stowaways had been handed over to the owner of the tanker, who had the legal responsibility to take them back to the ship’s port of origin. This had been denounced by several NGOs.
The Maltese-flagged vessel, the “Alithini II”, had set sail from Lagos, Nigeria, on 17 November and arrived in the port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on Monday.
An impressive photo released by the Spanish sea rescue services and picked up by many media showed the arrival of the three men, sitting on the huge rudder, with their feet just above the water, under the stern of the imposing 183-metre-long and 32-metre-wide ship.
On arrival in the Canary Islands, the three men “were tired and showed signs of hypothermia” for which “they were taken care of by the health services,” the sea rescue services told French news agency AFP on Monday. They also showed “moderate dehydration,” the emergency services said.