On their escape to Europe, three migrants from Africa stowed away next to the rudder of an oil tanker for eleven days and thus reached the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain.

According to the Spanish Coast Guard, they were spotted upon arrival on the island of Gran Canaria.

The three migrants were "located in the rudder blade of the ship 'Alithini II'" when it anchored near the port of Las Palmas, the Spanish coast guard told the AFP news agency on Monday.

The authorities initially gave no information about the origin of the rescued.

"They were tired and showing signs of hypothermia and upon arrival at the port they were treated by the health services," the statement said.

The rescued were "moderately dehydrated" and needed hospital treatment, wrote the emergency number 112 on Twitter.

Spanish authorities tweeted a picture of the stowaways, showing them perched together on the helm, apparently unable to lie down or even sit up due to limited space under the ship's hull.

According to tracking website shipfinder.com, the Maltese-flagged Alithini II departed Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, on November 17.

On Monday, the oil tanker arrived at the port of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa.

Some risk flying in the landing gear

It is not the first time that stowaways have found their way to the Canary Islands on the rudders of merchant ships.

As reported by "Der Spiegel", three people were found at the rudder of the tanker "Ocean Princess II" in November 2020.

A month earlier, four people were able to hide on the tanker "Champion Pula" for ten days before they were also discovered by the police in Las Palmas.

These ships also started in the port of Lagos.

However, risky journeys to Europe are not only made by water, but also by air.

In January of this year, a young man from Kenya managed to survive a flight lasting several hours in the landing gear bay of a cargo transport plane and thus get to Amsterdam.

However, this was a very unusual case: stowaways hiding in the cargo hold or undercarriage of an airplane usually do not survive the journey.

Despite the danger to life, many people dare to cross the open Atlantic from Africa to the Canary Islands and thus to the EU, mostly in small boats.

According to the Guardian, Spanish data shows that immigration to the archipelago by sea rose 51 percent in the first five months of this year compared to a year earlier.

The UN counted nearly 15,000 arrivals through November this year.

According to the UN Organization for Migration, or IOM for short, there were more than 1,500 dead or missing at sea by October.

However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be higher.