Mexican national, Jose Salvador Alvarenga recalls his 14-month ordeal in the sea after drifting in the Pacific Ocean, drinking turtle blood and eating birds that landed on his boat
Marshall Islands: This is the first picture of a Mexican man who was found last week after 14 months at sea in a broken down boat. With a straggly beard and unkempt hair, Jose Salvador Albarengo looks very much like Tom Hanks in Cast Away as he stumbles ashore drifting near the Ebot Atoll in the North Pacific. He said that he survived his 8,000 mile ordeal at sea by drinking turtles' blood and eating birds that landed on his boat.
I'm a survivor: Jose with his tangled hair and scraggy beard as he arrives in Marujo, in the Marshall Islands. Pic/AFP
Speaking about his ordeal when he landed in the Marshall Islands on his rescue boat, he said: ''I cannot remember much about my journey. It has all gone into one thought — the sea, the sea.” He added, ''I'm alive, it is so good. I thank God and I thank the birds I caught to eat.
I caught fish and at times I drank my own urine to have liquid.” He was with another teenage fisherman in the vessel when it broke down on December 21, 2012, but they were unable to attract the attention of other vessels.
The teenager died about four weeks after their 24ft fibreglass boat lost power. Jose's age is unknown as he does not remember his age or any other details. He has also forgotten the name of the village where his family lives, although they have now been tracked down.
Photo montage showing a reproduction of an undated file picture of Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga before (L) setting sail and after (R) he was rescued, in Majuro after a 22-hour boat ride from isolated Ebon Atoll on February 3, 2014. Photo: AFP
Norwegian anthropology student Ola Fjeldstad, who is stationed on the atoll, told how he met the castaway. He said: ''His condition isn't good but he's getting better.
The boat is really scratched up and looks like it's been in the water a long time. We've given him a lot of water and he's gaining strength.”
A health check found he had low blood pressure. But he did not have any life-threatening illness and was able to walk with help.