Migrants who crossed Atlantic on ship rudder saw ‘whales and sharks’ circling

The four plucky migrants who made a 3,500-mile Atlantic crossing from Nigeria to Brazil on a ship rudder say they saw sharks and whales beneath them, and had to drink their own urine to survive.

The quartet thought they were headed for Europe, but a 14-day voyage to South America is what was awaiting them when they clambered into the space above the rudder on a huge cargo ship.

When they landed at Vitoria, a port in southeastern Brazil, they gave their account of what they had experienced –having to resort to drinking their own urine when they ran out of food and drink after 10 days.

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"It was a terrible experience," Thankgod Opemipo Matthew Yeye, 38, said. "I was shaking, so scared. But I'm here."

Roman Ebimene Friday said a friend rowed him to the rudder and dropped him off on June 27 and he was surprised to find three other men already there.

They had made a net around the rudder to prevent them from falling, and secured themselves with rope to be extra sure.

He said on the journey he saw sharks and whales follow the ship and he was afraid the other men would push him into the water.

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But the group was united in trying not to draw attention to their makeshift rudder digs. "We taught ourselves never to make a noise," Friday said.

Surprisingly, after the arduous ocean crossing two of the men asked to be returned to Nigeria.

Friday and Yeye asked for asylum. They cited economic hardship, political instability and crime as their reasons for such a risky escape from their homeland.

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