Castaway Washes Up After '16 Months Adrift'

Castaway Washes Up After '16 Months Adrift'

A castaway has washed up in the remote Marshall Islands claiming he drifted at sea for more than a year - travelling 8,000 miles from where he set sail.

The Mexican man, who identified himself as Jose Ivan, is said to be recovering on Ebon Atoll after the ordeal, surviving by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

He had no fishing equipment on the boat, suggesting the man caught food with his bare hands.

Locals discovered Mr Ivan when his 24-foot fibreglass boat with propellerless engines floated onto a reef. He had long hair and a beard and was wearing only ragged underpants.

He told his rescuers he set sail from Mexico for El Salvador in September 2012 and had been floating in the ocean ever since.

He claimed he had a friend with him but he died many months ago.

Ebon mayor Ione de Brum said: "We've been feeding him nutritious island food and he's getting better. He has pain in both knees so he cannot stand up by himself. Otherwise, he's OK."

De Brum said she was communicating with the man using drawings because he cannot speak English and she does not speak Spanish.

"I've gotten to know him through pictures he's drawing. He said he was on his way to El Salvador by boat when it started drifting," she said.

Although communicating with him is difficult, Ms de Brum said the community was doing its best to help him and keep him comfortable; bringing him clothes, food and mosquito coils.

A navy ship has been sent to bring him to the capital Majuro and is expected to arrive in Ebon on Saturday night. After it returns to Majuro the process of getting the man back to Mexico will begin.

There are virtually no islands in the 8,000 mile expanse of the Pacific north of the equator between southern Mexico and the Marshall Islands.

If he had not washed onto the reef at Ebon, it is likely he would have drifted for another 1,000 miles of ocean before making landfall in Papua New Guinea or the Solomon Islands.

Such stories of survival have surfaced before. In 2006, three Mexicans were discovered drifting near the Marshall Islands nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.

They survived on rainwater, raw fish and seabirds, keeping their hopes of being found alive by reading the Bible.

Castaways from Kiribati in the south often make land in the Marshall Islands after weeks or months at sea in small boats.

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