Castaway claims to have survived 13 months at sea

Jose Salvador Alvarenga steps off a sea patrol vessel in the Marshall Islands with the help of a nurse after a 22-hour boat ride from isolated Ebon Atoll, on Feb. 03, 2014. (AFP)

A castaway who spent over a year lost at sea before drifting ashore on a Pacific island described drifting across the ocean and surviving on birds, turtles and fish, British newspaper The Telegraph reported on Monday.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a 37-year-old fisherman, set off from Mexico in Dec. 2012 with his colleague, 15-year-old Ezekiel, on what they intended to be a one-day fishing trip.

However, the motor of their 24-foot boat stopped working, and several days later, they had drifted well into the Pacific Ocean.

After four months stranded at sea, Ezekiel – who refused to eat – had passed away.

Alvarenga was then forced to roll the body of his young companion over the side of the boat, according to the Daily Mail.

Staying alive

Now, alone, and equipped only with a knife and a covering from the boat to protect himself from the sun’s harsh rays, the fisherman lived off birds, turtles, fish, and small sharks, which he would catch by plunging one arm in the water to use a bait, and grabbing the shark’s tail with the other.

“I caught fish and at times I drank my own urine to have liquid,” he said.

“Every day was the same, just the sea, the sea. I saw nothing more. The sea and my boat…The days at sea and the nights...they were all one after a while,” he added.

“I thought of my wife and daughter all the time and knew they were missing me, but what could I do?”

Details unclear

After eventually seeing land at an atoll close to the remote Marshall Islands, around 13,000 kilometers away from Mexico, Alvarenga mustered up the strength to swim ashore, and was taken to hospital to recover from his ordeal.

The full details of the incident, and the whereabouts of Alvarenga’s family, who reside in his native country of El Salvador, remain unknown, with Island officials working to repatriate him.

The fisherman’s relatively healthy appearance could be due to bloating caused by exposure to too much sunlight and salt, doctors said. However, his mental condition after his lengthy ordeal is thought to be of greater concern.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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