Foreign Minister of El Salvador Jaime Miranda (L) talks
with Jose Salvador Alvarenga as the latter arrives at
Comalapa airport in San Luis Talpa on the outskirts of San
Salvador. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
A fisherman from El Salvador who says he spent more than
a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean arrived home and was barely
able to speak, sobbing as dozens of curiosity-seekers craned
for a glimpse of the famous castaway.
Jorge Salvador Alvarenga, 36, told officials he washed ashore
in the Marshall Islands at the end of January and said he
survived the ordeal by drinking turtle blood and catching
fish and birds with his bare hands.
"I can't find any words to say," an emotional Alvarenga said
on landing at the airport in the capital, San Salvador, where
he was reunited with family before being taken to a local
hospital in a wheelchair for further tests.
While the exact dates remain unclear, Alvarenga is believed
to have set sail on a shark fishing trip from southern Mexico
in late December 2012, before being blown out to sea,
drifting for months and washing up some 10,000 km (6,200
miles) away in the Marshall Islands.
He was found in a disoriented state on a remote coral atoll
in his 7.3-meter (22-foot) fiberglass boat.
"Due to his frail health, it's necessary that he receive the
appropriate medical attention," El Salvador's foreign
minister, Jaime Miranda, told reporters at the airport.
Alvarenga, who has been a fisherman for 15 years, previously
said he set sail with another fisherman who died weeks into
"We're struck by the extraordinary nature of the case, how
long he spent at sea, and we're surprised that he's alive,"
said Brenda Dominguez, 25, who arrived at the airport to say
goodbye to her in-laws in hopes she might see the famous
In 2006, three Mexican fishermen picked up by a Taiwanese
tuna trawler near the islands said they had spent nearly nine
months at sea after drifting across the Pacific in a flimsy