Seven Nigerian stowaways have been arrested in the United Kingdom for allegedly attacking an oil vessel off the coast of Isle of Wight.
Security operatives on Sunday night ended a ten-hour standoff in the channel after a group of Nigerians allegedly threatened to kill the crew of an oil tanker bound for the UK.
Reports said that troops from the Special Boat Service stormed the vessel under cover of darkness on Sunday and detained the seven suspected migrants after they allegedly forced the giant vessel to drop anchor five miles off the Isle of Wight.
The seven Nigerian stowaways would be questioned and they will remain in police stations across the county until Wednesday evening, it said.
The stowaways allegedly turned violent after the crew discovered them hiding in the bowels of the 228 metre-long vessel, which had been due to dock in Southampton on Monday morning.
When the crew attempted to lock the men inside a cabin, they reportedly smashed glass and made threats to kill.
The captain thereafter issued a desperate Mayday call to the mainland pleading for help as he feared losing control of the ship, which can carry up to 42,000 tons of crude oil.
The captain also told an operator that he feared for his life, and some members of the crew retreated to the ship’s engine room ‘citadel’, a stronghold designed to keep out pirates, until the security operatives finally arrived.
The seven stowaways were detained and brought back to the mainland for questioning while the crew members were all found safe inside the ships’ stronghold.
The number of migrants crossing the into the UK through the channel rose to 7,500 in 2020, almost four times the 1,900 recorded in 2019.
An official of the government once proposed asylum for migrants who arrive in the UK illegally should be refused unless there is good reason to consider their cases.