Mexican Castaway Back On Dry Land After Rescue

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Salvadoran castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga walks with the help of a nurse in Majuro after a boat ride from Ebon Atoll on February 3, 2014

A castaway who survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean has arrived in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro following his rescue from a remote coral atoll.

Jose Salvador Alvarengo was met by about 1,000 onlookers at the dock, who greeted the dishevelled fisherman before he was taken away for a medical check-up.

The first photographs of the 37-year-old fisherman show him sporting a bushy beard and carrying a can of Coke.

He smiled and waved to the crowd as he was helped onto land by Marshall Islands officials.

Mr Alvarengo arrived in Majuro after a 22-hour journey from the Ebon Atoll, where he was rescued last Thursday wearing nothing but a pair of ragged underpants.

When Ebon islanders discovered Mr Alvarengo on the atoll - some 8,000 miles away from Mexico, where he set out - he was unable to walk without assistance.

He smiled and waved to the crowd as he was helped off the boat by Marshall Islands officials.

US ambassador Thomas Armbruster acted as an interpreter for Marshall Islands authorities and spoke with Mr Alvarengo once he was on dry land.

Mr Alvarengo told the ambassador that he was originally from El Salvador, but had been living in Mexico for 15 years.

"He said he is a shrimp and shark fisherman. He looked better than one would expect," Mr Armbruster said.

It is understood the fisherman left Tapachula in Mexico on December 21, 2012, with a male aged between 15 and 18 years of age.

The two fishermen had headed out to sea fishing for shark, but began drifting uncontrollably in their 24-foot fibreglass boat.

No details have yet emerged as to why they began drifting, or what happened to the younger companion Mr Alvarengo says died a few months ago.

Mr Alvarengo indicated that he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

Stories of survival in the vast Pacific are not uncommon.

In 2006, three Mexicans made international headlines when they were discovered drifting, also in a small fibreglass boat near the Marshall Islands, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.

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