Ship’s captain “blamed” for Algerian stowaways’ swim to freedom across Tejo

Two more Algerians have managed to enter Portugal illegally – this time via a gas tanker on which they stowed-away before it left their home country’s port of Arzew. The men were ‘detected’ while the Queen Isabella was on its way to Portugal, and ‘held’ in the ship’s infirmary.

According to Correio da Manhã, as the ship discharged its cargo in Barreiro the men – due to be forcibly returned to Algeria on Queen Isabella’s return journey – broke out via a porthole, plunging into the waters of the Tejo and swimming to ‘freedom’.

Today (Monday), the paper claims the interior ministry is now blaming Queen Isabella’s captain for the incident – saying he had informed them of his stowaways, and guaranteed their return to Algeria.

As we write this story, both men, in their mid-40s, are still missing.

The dramatic swim took place on Carnival night (Tuesday February 28). In other words, the men have been ‘at large’ for almost a week, and there appear no clues as to where they may have gone – or indeed if they even made it to shore.

Jaloul Bensmail, 44 and Samir Miloudi, 45, disappeared as the Queen Isabella discharged its gas at the Quimipor terminal, Barreiro.

The ship has since returned to Algeria, writes CM, adding that “police sources guarantee Portuguese ports are vulnerable, and that it would not be difficult to enter Portugal this way”.

“Hundreds of ships and boats enter and leave everyday, and there are simply not sufficient means to check everyone who may be on them”, a source added.

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