An Indonesian teenager survived seven weeks adrift at sea after his tiny fishing trap lost its moorings and ended up some 2 500km away in waters near the Pacific island of Guam, his family said on Monday.
Aldi Novel Adilang’s harrowing tale began in mid-July when the 18-year-old was working solo on a fishing hut anchored about 125km off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island. His job was to keep the vessel’s lamps lit to attract fish. Its owner would reportedly come by weekly to drop off food, clean water, fuel and other supplies. The floating fishing trap, known as a rompong, had no engine and was anchored to the seabed with a long rope, but heavy winds knocked it off its moorings and sent Adilang out to sea.
The teen, who only had enough food to last several days, survived by catching fish. “After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking,” he was quoted as saying. “He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water.”
About ten ships passed the malnourished teen before a Panamanian-flagged vessel rescued him on August 31 near Guam and brought him to Japan, its original destination.
“I was shocked when his boss told us,” he had been rescued, Adilang’s mother said. “I was so happy.”