Cruise Ship Heroically Rescues 68 Migrants Stranded in the Atlantic Ocean


Erielle Delzer,

Elias Lopez

June 20, 2024 / 7:40 PM EDT

/ CBS News

A cruise ship rescued 68 people adrift on a fishing boat off the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the cruise operator, Oceania Cruises, said Thursday.

The ship, the Insignia, was near the end of 180-day trip around the world when it received a distress call about the boat.

“We can confirm that Insignia rescued 68 people from a vessel in distress between Cape Verde and Tenerife and brought them onboard for medical assistance and provided food, drinks, clothing, and a safe place to rest,” Oceania Cruises said in a statement to CBS News. “We have coordinated next steps with authorities in Tenerife, and they will be taking over the care of the rescued people.”

Henry Tom, a cruise ship passenger from Vancouver, Canada, told CBS News that it took a couple of hours to rescue the people on the fishing boat and that about five people on the boat were dead.

The Associated Press reported the crew was able to recover three of the five bodies on the small boat, known as pirogue, but were unable to recover the remaining two because of bad weather. The news agency said an oil tanker first spotted the drifting boat south of the island of Tenerife. Authorities diverted the Insignia cruise ship to rescue the migrants.

The migrants were from Africa, Henry Tom, the passenger, said. “We believe they were from Senegal. Not 100% sure,” he said. He said they were placed in the Insignia Lounge, where the ship hosts live performances, and that passengers were donating shoes and clothing for the migrants, whom he said had been at sea between 20 and 30 days.

Spain recorded 55,618 migrants arrived by sea — most of them to the Canary Islands — last year, almost double the number from 2022. More than 23,000 have landed so far this year, according to the Interior Ministry.

Erielle Delzer is a verification producer for CBS News Confirmed. She covers misinformation, AI and social media. Contact Erielle at

First published on June 20, 2024 / 7:40 PM EDT

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