News / Asia

Lost at Sea for a Year, Man Washes up on Marshall Islands

Jose Salvador Alvarenga sits on a couch in Majuro in the Marshall Islands, after he was rescued from being washed ashore on the tiny atoll of Ebon in the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 3, 2014.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga sits on a couch in Majuro in the Marshall Islands, after he was rescued from being washed ashore on the tiny atoll of Ebon in the Pacific Ocean, Feb. 3, 2014.
VOA News
A 37-year-old fisherman from El Salvador has washed ashore in the Marshall Islands, where he told authorities he survived a 13-month journey across most of the Pacific Ocean by eating raw turtles and drinking his own urine.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga said he set sail from southern Mexico in December 2012 for what was supposed to be a one-day shark-fishing expedition. When his 7-meter fiberglass boat lost power, he claims that he began drifting, and kept drifting, until he landed nearly 11,000 kilometers away. Authorities have not confirmed the story.

He was found last week on the beach - almost completely naked and hungry, but in relatively good shape, by two women on the tiny atoll of Ebon in the southern Marshall Islands. Longtime Marshall Islands resident and filmmaker Jack Niedenthal interviewed Alvarenga Monday for CNN.

On Tuesday, he described Alvarenga's condition to VOA. "When he arrived, he appeared very bloated, he's got a very big beard and shaggy hair... he looks exactly like Tom Hanks in Castaway," he said.

Niedenthal said that Alvarenga was initially very hesitant to speak with the media about his ordeal. But he eventually opened up, describing an almost unbelievable story.

Alvarenga claims he was able to survive by eating the raw flesh of sea birds and fish.

Niedenthal said Alvarenga's young companion, a teenager named Xiguel, was unable to survive because he could not handle the diet. "Every time the young man would take a bird to his mouth, he would throw up. So he couldn't stomach that, and after a while, like I said, four months, he died, and he just had to throw him overboard," he added.

Niedenthal said Alvarenga allegedly drank turtle blood, and sometimes his own urine, in order to stay alive. "He said the biggest thing was the water. When there wasn't water, he just drank his urine a little bit at a time, just to keep himself somewhat hydrated. And then he said it would pour rain and the boat would fill up with rain water, and that's what he would drink," he explained.

Niedenthal said Alvarenga's initial reluctance to talk to the media and his state of exhaustion following his rescue lead him to believe the story is not a hoax.

There is a precedent for such a journey. In 2006, three Mexican fisherman were rescued near the islands after spending about nine months adrift.

Alvarenga says he wants to return to Mexico, and diplomats from the United States, Mexico and El Salvador are discussing his relocation.

Members of his family, in Silver Spring, Maryland, expressed relief at his rescue. While some had given him up for dead, his mother, who remains in El Salvador, insisted he was alive.

Alvarenga said while on his journey he considered committing suicide several times, but survived by praying to God, thinking about his family, and dreaming of eating his favorite food - tortillas.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 
by: mark from: york pa
February 05, 2014 8:30 PM
U people sound dumb the poor man sufferd and all u can say is its a hoax he probly bit his nails and if your feet is wet u can peel ur toe nails he is probly bloated from being in salt water and exposed to heat and some peoples facal hair grows differnt and hes nit burnt cuz hes mexican poor guy now he will apaciate life better


by: tessie from: monterey ca
February 05, 2014 5:35 PM
I want to know more about the young boy that was with him and what really happened. Sounds too suspucious to me..


by: pokerface from: brazil
February 05, 2014 11:34 AM
come on!!!!! his hair looks better than mine!


by: Gayle Reinholtz from: Framingham
February 05, 2014 5:31 AM
They must of had great nail clippers there and toe nail clippers notice his hair is long than nails

In Response

by: smartass from: My house
February 05, 2014 10:54 AM
It's called biting your nails


by: Clay from: 37087
February 04, 2014 9:57 PM
NAH, as a Survival instructor for the military, this guy looks to Damn good and well fed to have been at sea for a YEAR? Beard and Hair to good as well. BS don't care what ANYONE says

In Response

by: Anonymous
February 07, 2014 11:18 PM
The clipped nails? He probably bit, tore or broke them. He's out at sea with absolutely nothing to do and you expect him to wash up with long nails.

In Response

by: Gayle Reinholtz from: Framingham
February 05, 2014 5:36 AM
Love the clipped nails!!! LOL


by: Frank Burns
February 04, 2014 3:38 PM
Why all the doubt? Apparently sea turtles are nutritious. And if it is a farce, a poor fisherman would need a team with plenty of financing helping him, to transport his boat 8,000 miles, and give him a place to hide out for a year, and keep his friend still in hiding -- don't you think after all that effort they would have thought enough to make sure he lost a lot of weight? So you see, his good condition actually goes to disprove any conspiracy here. Are people jealous maybe, that they don't look as good, even though they live in the US, with lots of food and opportunities? I don't get the doubt, unless it's for this.


by: dominant from: nj
February 04, 2014 1:53 PM
he may have contracted parasites eating raw, uncooked food. hence, reasoning for appearing bloated


by: igofdkfmsd;a from: london
February 04, 2014 12:57 PM
looks like Pi has some competition.


by: Gary from: NC
February 04, 2014 12:31 PM
How could he not be sun burned ?

In Response

by: romy from: CA
February 05, 2014 1:25 PM
people all around the world do bite there nails and eat there nails that's a pretty dumb thing to say where he got nails clippers from and his nails look all dirty and bitten not all nice like he got a manicure and clipped his nails.

In Response

by: Gayle from: Framingham
February 05, 2014 5:37 AM
where he get nail clippers???? lol

In Response

by: Polarbear52 from: Vancouver, Canada
February 04, 2014 4:30 PM
He had the cover of a nice 21 foot boat. He was not stranded on some log in the middle of the ocean.


by: J. Brown from: norcal
February 04, 2014 11:20 AM
I know that urine is thought to be semi-sterile, but there must be a lot of calories in piss, turtle blood and raw seagull wings. This fisherman does not look at all starved or emaciated. I can't wait for the book and movie. I don't think Tom Hanks can't play the lead. He's too thin.

Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid