Marshall Islands Castaway Survives 13 Months Out at Sea
The story of an El Salvadoran man who allegedly was lost at sea for more than a year almost mirrors one of Hollywood’s most adventurous and heart-felt films, “Castaway,” which was released in 2000 starring Tom Hanks.
The realistic castaway, 37-year-old Jose Salvador Alvarenga, was discovered Monday washed ashore on a tiny island of the Marshall Islands. The islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, 5,500 miles away from Mexico.
His story entails a 13-month ordeal at sea after leaving on a shark-fishing trip with a fellow friend.
Alvarenga tells investigators that he was originally from El Salvador, but lived in Mexico for the past 15 years where he worked as a fisherman catching sharks.
According to the longhaired, bearded man, he and his traveling friend Xiquel set sail from Mexico on Dec. 2012 when their engine died. They were then propelled off course by a storm and left adrift.
Xiquel was said to be the teenage son of Alvarenga’s boss. After a few months abandoned at sea, the young boy starved to death.
Alvarenga recalled his own survival experience to officials, one that involved surviving off of turtles, raw fish, bird blood and prayer.
“He has a story that can be verified so those are the next steps to find out when he left Mexico and then add up the evidence and the information he has provided. But certainly if what he is saying is true, he is one of the best survivalists around,” U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hart Armbruster told NBC News.
His health is shockingly in good condition, except for a minor case of low blood pressure and swollen limbs.
Some officials fail to believe that a castaway could survive such an extended long period of time without adequate survival tools. However, there have been similar stories in the past where fishermen have survived up to nine months lost at sea.
“It does sound like an incredible story and I’m not sure if I believe his story,” said Gee Bing, secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands. “When we saw him, he was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past. I may have some doubts. Once we start communicating with where he’s from, we’ll be able to find out more information.”
Although he appears to be a bit flustered and incoherent, Alvarenga was able to provide the names of his parents and siblings.
His brother and brother-in-law have both been contacted by authorities and say that Alvarenga definitely looks like their long-lost family member; but they are not getting their hopes up just yet.
Officials are still investigating the details of Alvarenga’s account to validate his identity and “miraculous” story.
Alvarenga has been taken to a hospital on the Majuro Island for further medical treatment and examination.
Here’s a list of some of the luckiest survivors.