Stowaway migrants rescued from inside rudder of boat after hiding for four days

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‌Four Nigerian migrants who had been hiding in the rudder of a ship for an arduous 13-day journey were finally rescued off the coast of Espirito Santo state in Brazil.

The Liberian-flagged ship had initially departed from Lagos, Nigeria, on June 27, embarking on a treacherous voyage across the vast Atlantic Ocean.

The clandestine passengers, who were desperately seeking a better life, were discovered “by the vigilant crew of the ship”, according to Brazil’s Federal Police, who promptly carried out the rescue operation on Monday.

The stowaways had ingeniously hidden themselves in a cramped compartment within the ship’s rudder, situated at the back of the hull.

Thankfully, the four men, now under the care of Brazilian authorities, are reported to be in good health and are currently recovering in a local hotel. 

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The Federal Police confirmed that the migrants have been well-fed and are being closely monitored to ensure their well-being.

In a heart-wrenching video released by the police, one of the men can be seen perched precariously on the rudder blade, while the others were concealed within a small, confined space inside the hull. 

During the rescue operation, officers were overheard discussing the necessity of life jackets for the men, as at least two of them admitted to not being able to swim.

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Although the rescued men claim to be Nigerian, they lacked any official documentation to confirm their identities. As a result, they will remain in custody and responsibility of the maritime agency responsible for the vessel until arrangements can be made for their safe return to their country of origin.

A similar incident happened in Spain where the Spanish coastguard rescued two Nigerian migrants who stowed away on the rudder of a ship that arrived in the Canary Islands from Togo.

Following their rescue on Monday night at the port of Las Palmas, the two migrants were initially taken to a hospital for evaluation. After being deemed medically fit, they were subsequently released and transferred back to the ship from which they had been rescued. The ship is now obligated to return them to their port of origin, as stated by the port police in a tweet.

Disturbing imagery captured on video and shared on Twitter by Las Palmas maritime police showcases the dire situation in which the two stowaways were found. Huddled on the rudder beneath the ship’s hull, just above the waterline of the MSC Marta, their precarious position is evident.

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According to a spokesperson from the Guardia Civil police, the migrants were 19 and 22 years old. The ship’s journey prior to reaching the Spanish archipelago off the African coast included a stop in Lome, the capital of Togo, although further details were not provided by the coastguard spokesperson.

The voyage of the MSC Marta commenced in Lagos, Nigeria, on July 2, with a stopover in Togo on July 4, as reported by the local newspaper La Provincia. This indicates that the migrants had spent at least seven days aboard the vessel.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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