Marshall Islands Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga Lost 13 Months at Sea

Monday, 03 Feb 2014 12:05 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Like a scene straight out of the Tom Hanks movie "Castaway," Jose Salvador Alvarenga washed up on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific last week with an amazing tale of survival after claiming he was lost at sea for more than a year.

Alvarenga's boat reportedly snagged on a reef on Ebon Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands north of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, on Thursday and with the help of local islanders, he was able to get to shore. According to NBC News, Alvarenga was taken to a hospital on the main island of Majuro on Monday for further evaluation and treatment.

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The castaway told police he drifted more than 6,000 miles in a 24-foot boat after taking off from the coast of Mexico for a fishing trip 13 months ago. He somehow managed to live even after his companion starved to death, surviving on fish, birds, turtles, rainwater, and urine.

He was reportedly able to tell investigators the name of his hometown in El Salvador, the names of his parents, siblings, and daughter, as well as the name of his boss in Mexico, according to NBC News. He could not, however, provide his birth date or explain why there was no fishing gear on the vessel. His timeline of when he embarked on the trip was also fuzzy.

"He is hungry, swollen, in pain, extremely loopy, and wants a haircut," an interpreter who helped interview Alvarenga on Monday wrote in a report.

"He is not fully coherent," Tony de Brum, minister-in-assistance to the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, told NBC.

Police are currently trying to contact family members from a list that Alvarenga provided.

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