Castaway survives year adrift in Pacific Ocean

Last updated 22:35 03/02/2014

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About 1000 people have turned up at a dock in the Marshall Islands capital, Majuro, to greet the man who says he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

He has told officials he is Jose Salvador Alvarenga, 37, and has indicated that he survived drinking turtle blood and catching fish with his bare hands.

A male nurse assisted Alvarengaashore from a police patrol boat after a 22-hour trip from the remote coral atoll in the southern Marshall Islands where he washed ashore, looking disoriented and clad only in underpants, late last week.

Today he waved briefly to the waiting crowd before being taken to Majuro Hospital to be checked out.

Local media reported US ambassador Thomas Armbruster saying Alvarenga "looked better  than one would expect".

Alvarenga had told officials he was from El Salvador but had been living in Mexico. He was hunting for sharks with a boy aged between 15 and 18 in late  2012 when winds blew them off course and they became lost.

The boy died a few weeks into the trip because he could not eat raw bird meat.

Alvarenga does not speak English but through pictures and signs he told his rescuers he had survived the 12,500km journey by eating turtles, birds and fish - and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

Marshall Islands Foreign Affairs acting secretary Gee Bing said Alvarenga had been put on drip and treated for dehydration and joint pain but was otherwise in a stable condition.

"When he arrived today his vital signs were ok after the nurse checked him out," Bing told Pacific Beat.

Bing said Alvarenga had been fingerprinted to verify his identity, with the government working to communicate with Mexican and El Salvodor authorities on repatriation.

Marshall Islands Journal editor Giff Johnson said: "They (locals) said when he came off he was just in a ragged pair of underwear, a long beard; the boat looked like it had been in the water for a long time.

"Whatever the back story is on this, it appears that this guy's been out on the water for an awful long time."

Johnson said Alvarenga they had provided him with food and clothing while a government boat was sent from Majuro.

"The people on the island said he looked to be malnourished," he said.

"They just started feeding him water and food, and said he was doing better, but still needed help moving around."

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