Four stowaways have been rescued off the southeast coast of Brazil after spending 14 days at sea hidden in the hull of a ship from Nigeria.
The men traveled from the coast of Africa to Brazil in the so-called wheelhouse area of the vessel, close to the propeller. Reuters report that on their 10th day
at sea, the four Nigerian stowaways crossing the Atlantic in a tiny space above the rudder of a cargo ship ran out of food and drink.
They revealed that they survived another four days by drinking the sea water before being rescued by Brazilian federal police in the south-eastern port of Vitoria.
“It was a terribl£ experience for me,” said 38-year-old Thankgod Opemipo Matthew Yeye, one of the four Nigerians, in an interview at a São Paulo church shelter. “On board it is not easy. I was shaking, so scar£d. But I’m here.”
The four men said they had hoped to reach Europe in their voyage last month and were shocked to learn they had in fact landed on the other side of the Atlantic, in Brazill. Two of the men have since been returned to Nigeria upon their request, while Yeye and Roman Ebimene Friday, a 35-year-old from Bayelsa state, have applied for asylum in Brazil.
“I pray the government of Brazil will have pity on me,” said Friday, who had already attempted to flee Nigeria by ship once before but was arrested by authorities there.
Both men revealed that economic hardship, political instability and crime had left them with little option but to abandon their native Nigeria. Yeye, a pentecostal minister from Lagos state, said his peanut and palm oil farm was destr#yed by floods this year, leaving him and his family homeless. He hopes they can now join him in Brazil.
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