‘Migrant’ sailing to UK on raft made of flower pots, wood and rope rescued in North Sea
A suspected migrant trying to sail to the UK on a wood-framed raft has been rescued from the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands.
The sides of the V-shaped raft were made from large flower pots filled with plastic bottles and insulation foam tied together with criss-crossed rope.
The pots were fastened together in pairs top-to-top, the whole craft resembling a rudimentary, ramshackle dinghy.
The Eritrean man, 26, whose name is not known, was using a piece of plastic as a sail and had a jerrycan with water, coffee and a solar panel to charge his mobile phone.
To move in the water, the man had constructed paddles from long, thin tree branches with metal serving trays attached to one end.
Edward Zwitser, a spokesperson for the Royal Dutch Rescue Society (KNRM) told Sky News he was spotted by a local fishing boat around one kilometre from the harbour of IJmuiden, on the Dutch North Sea coast.
“That’s a risky situation because that’s where the big sea ships going to Amsterdam sail… a lifeboat from IJmuiden picked him up,” he said, adding that his condition was “really good”.
The man did not speak English or Dutch and Mr Zwitser admitted “we do not know what his plan was”.
His raft was pulled aboard the rescue vessel before he was taken ashore and handed over to Dutch border control officials.
A KNRM spokesman said it was extremely dangerous to cross the North Sea on such a raft, which “can sink or capsize and, moreover, cannot be steered. You need a motor or well-functioning sail for that”.
He wanted to use the ebb current to get to the high seas, the spokesperson predicted, but would just as likely have missed the English coast and ended up in Greenland.
Authorities believe the man had probably not been sailing long but had already reached a dangerous area when he was spotted by another boat and eventually rescued.
“He was already on the approach route [to Amsterdam] used by large ships. A captain of a large ship would overlook him and sail over him,” the spokesperson said, adding that it was the first time a migrant has tried to reach England on a raft from the Dutch coast.
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