Three migrants who arrived in the Canary Islands after enduring an 11-day journey from Nigeria on the rudder of a fuel tanker have asked for asylum in Spain, officials said Wednesday.
The three Nigerian men were found when the Alithini II docked in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria on Monday evening.
A photo shared on social media by the Spanish coastguard shows them sitting on the rudder of the oil tanker’s stern, their feet just above the waterline.
The three had symptoms of hypothermia and received hospital care before being returned to the ship.
Spanish officials had said that the ship’s operator had the legal responsibility to take them back to Nigeria since they were stowaways.
But a spokesman for the central government’s representative in the Canary Islands said the three men had requested asylum in Spain and the Maltese-flagged ship was allowed to leave Gran Canaria without them.
The Alithini II departed Nigeria’s largest city Lagos for Las Palmas — a journey of over 2,700 nautical miles — on November 17, according to maritime tracking websites.
Spain’s Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Africa, are a popular gateway for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.