Latin American castaway survives 13 months in Pacific Ocean

Monday, February 3, 2014 - 7:19pm

A man who says he was lost at sea for more than a year is back on dry land.

He says he drifted from Mexico to the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific.

That’s some 9,000 kilometers.

Now, investigators are trying to determine if this is an amazing tale of survival or just a hoax.

He appeared to have difficulty walking, as he stepped off the boat that brought him to safety.

But otherwise, the long-bearded man seemed in good condition.

Tom Armbruster, the U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands told CNN,

"He's talked about joint pain several times. I know he'd like a haircut, but he looks very good. He's sharp. I'm certainly no medical professional, but I think that he's in much better shape than one would expect after such an ordeal."

He calls himself Jose Ivan Alvarengo and says he's 37 years old.

Alvarengo told authorities in the Marshall Islands that he was lost at sea for 13 months before washing up on an

island in the pacific nation.

"It sounds like a quite an incredible sea story of a man that went fishing for one day and expected to return on the west coast of Mexico, but he was blown off by a storm," Armbruster said.

The castaway told officials he survived by eating fish and turtles he had caught.

He would drink rainwater and sometimes his own urine.

Authorities in the Marshall Islands are trying to determine if the story is true. The trip from the west coast of Mexico across the Pacific to the Marshall Islands is roughly 5,600 miles or 9,000 kilometers of open ocean, although such an amazing ordeal isn't unheard-of. Three Mexican fishermen survived a similar journey in 2006.

Alvarengo told authorities he and a companion set out for what they thought would be a one-day fishing trip.

"It sounded very much like it was a storm. He talked about a north wind and waves and being blown off course and then losing a companion at sea as well," Tom Armbruster told CNN.

His teenage companion, Alvarengo says, died four weeks into their drift.


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