Castaway pleads for home after 16 months adrift

The man's story has similarities to the film Cast Away, featuring Tom Hanks.
The man's story has similarities to the film Cast Away, featuring Tom Hanks.

A Mexican man who was found washed up on a Pacific atoll after spending more than a year at sea has said he just wants to go home.

The emaciated man, who said his name is Jose Ivan, was rescued on Thursday when his 24-foot fibreglass boat with propellerless engines washed up on to the reef at Ebon Atoll, after floating more than 12,500 kilometres (8,000 miles) from Mexico.

The castaway managed to communicate his desperate desire to return to his home country, AFP reported. "I just want to get back to Mexico," he told interpreter Magui Vaca as he was boarding a Marshall Islands patrol vessel, which transported him to the capital Majuro for a medical examination.

"I feel bad," he said. "I am so far away. I don't know where I am or what happened."

Ivan, who was clad only in a pair of ragged underpants when he was found, told Vaca he left his home in Mexico to go shark fishing on 24 December, 2012, meaning he spent 13 months, at sea, rather than the 16 months his rescuers initially believed.

"It's been difficult trying to communicate with him," said Ebon Mayor Ione deBrum.

"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."

The remaining details remain sketchy, particularly regarding the fate of a companion, whom Ivan said died several months ago.

Vaca said Ivan was disorientated and did not know what had happened during his long stint at sea.

"He feels a little desperate and he wants to get back to Mexico, but he doesn't know how," she said.

Ivan appears to have survived by eating turtles, birds and fish and by drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

He caught the animals with his bare hands as there was no fishing gear on board the boat. There was a turtle on the boat when it landed at Ebon.

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

Ivan is expected to arrive in Majuro late Monday morning.

His talk with Vaca, which took place via radio, is believed to be the first time in many months that the Mexican has had a conversation that he was able to understand.

- UK Independent

- Daily Telegraph UK

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