An Indonesian teen survived seven weeks at sea drifting on a wooden fishing hut from off the coast of Indonesia to the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam, a distance of approximately 2000 miles.
Aldi Novel Adilang, 19, was working on a floating fishing trap (known as a rompong) anchored some 77 miles off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island when the rope tethering him to the seabed broke on July 14 due to high winds, sending him adrift, the BBC reported.
“My rompong’s rope snapped after it rubbed against my friend’s rompong,” said Adilang, who spoke to BBC Indonesian from his parents’ house near the city of Manado in North Sulawesi. “Unfortunately he was asleep so he didn’t know I was adrift.”
The rompong didn’t have a motor or paddle, and the teen drifted off to sea. His supplies consisted of about a week’s worth of food and water, a two-way radio, and a Bible.
“Rice, clean water, spices, cooking gas, and other supplies ran out. To survive I caught fish and burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. I even ate raw fish,” he told the BBC.
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Adilang drank seawater to stay hydrated, filtering it through wet clothing he had on board to make it safer and more palatable.
The teen said he offered many tearful prayers to God that he would be rescued so he could see his mother and father again.
He also read his Bible and sang Christian songs.
He despaired at one point and considered committing suicide by jumping into the sea, but his faith helped him overcome the temptation.
Fajar Firdaus, a diplomat at the consulate in Osaka, Japan, told The Jakarta Post that more than ten ships passed Adilang during his time on open waters until on Aug. 31 he was able to get the attention of a Panamanian flagged freighter.
He managed to dial his radio to the vessel’s frequency and signaled for help.
“According to video posted by a crew member, (Adilang’s) distress message — ‘Help Help Help’ — reached the cargo ship’s chief mate, Emmanuel Soriano, who informed the captain, Narciso Santillan — who ordered the ship to change course to carry out a rescue operation,” NPR reported.
Once aboard, the teen received food, water, clothing and a haircut.
The ship’s crew took him with them to their next stop, arriving in the port of Tokuyama, Japan, on Sept. 6.
From there he was flown to Tokyo and then on to Indonesia, where Adilang was reunited with his family.
The teen has no plans to return to his old job.
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