90 Miles From Tyranny : Man Survives 13 Months Adrift In The Pacific Ocean By Drinking Turtle Blood..

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Man Survives 13 Months Adrift In The Pacific Ocean By Drinking Turtle Blood..

Frail, bearded but smiling, Jose Salvador Alvarenga came ashore on the island of Majuro on Monday after his terrible ordeal and spoke to MailOnline

Jose only survived by catching, birds, fish, turtles and drinking their blood

He said: 'I thank God and I thank the birds I caught to eat. I caught fish and at times I drank my own urine to have liquid'

Rambling at times, he can remember very little of his past life

He looked plumper than expected, but a doctor said it was because his body has swollen from the conditions he endured

But questions have started to creep in about his 'incredible' story. A local official said: 'I'm not sure if I believe his story. I may have some doubts'

Claims he left Mexico for El Salvador in December 2012 with a companion, aged between 15 and 18, who died after four weeks

The 'Miracle Man of the Pacific' - the fisherman who claimed he survived on turtle blood, raw fish and seagull flesh as he drifted helplessly for more than a year returned to civilization today to mounting questions over his ordeal.
Stumbling ashore today at a dock in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, Jose Salvador Alvarenga managed a smile before telling MailOnline: 'I'm alive - I'm alive and I can't believe it.'
When asked about his ordeal he simply replied: 'I cannot remember much about my journey. It has all gone into one thought - the sea, the sea.'

Jose said he desperately wanted to phone his family - his wife and his 10-year-old daughter - in El Salvador but he cannot remember the name of the village or a phone number. 'I have forgotten many things,' he told MailOnline.
Jose says he has even forgotten exactly how old he is. He 'believes' he is about 36 to 38, even though his ordeal has made him appear much older.

'He is here, with us, but he isn't here with us,' an interpreter who has spoken to Jose told MailOnline. 'He is still disorientated, there is no doubt about that.'
Questions have started to mount over his 'incredible' story that if true makes his one of the most amazing in maritime history.

Gee Bing, the acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, said he was somewhat skeptical of Jose's account after meeting with him Monday.
Bing said the man had no identification with him and other details of his story remained sketchy, including the exact location of his departure from Mexico.

'It does sound like an incredible story and I'm not sure if I believe his story,' Bing said. 'When we saw him,
he was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past. I may have some doubts. Once we start communicating with where he's from, we'll be able to find out more information.'
However, doctors said that he may need a long rest to recover his memory more fully.

He claims his 24ft boat had drifted helplessly across 8,000 miles of treacherous seas, remarkably staying upright in storms, sitting idly in calm conditions after he and a teenage shark fisherman endured the most soul-destroying of conditions after their engine broke down on December 21, 2012.

Despite their attempts to attract other vessels, they continued to drift further out to sea. He watched his teenage fishing companion, he knew only as Ezekiel, aged between 15 and 18, slowly die after four weeks under the relentless sun, unable to keep down and digest the raw food they were forced to eat.

He has told doctors that he was forced to roll the body of his young companion over the side of the boat, but he stopped short of going into the details.
'No, no,' he said, when an interpreter for MailOnline asked him about that terrible moment.
He would only say: 'I'm sad for him'.

Jose continued his own struggle for survival that was to endure for week after week, month after tortuous month with only a knife and a small covering to shield him from the sun.
He contemplated suicide, 'but I couldn't do that,' he said. 'I prayed instead. I believed that God would protect me.
He said he grabbed turtles to drink their blood when there was no rain water, swallowed down his own urine, snatched seagulls to eat their flesh and hooked fish and ate them raw - to keep a tenuous hold on life.
He said: 'I thank God and I thank the birds I caught to eat. I caught fish and at times I drank my own urine to have liquid.

'Every day was the same, just the sea, the sea. I saw nothing more. The sea and my boat. I had no idea of time, but I know that it was December 21, 2012, when we left. The days at sea and the nights...they were all one after a while.
'I lived on fish that were easy to catch and once I caught a small shark. I know sharks. I used to catch them all the time.'
Sitting in a chair in the Majuro hospital, where local people were calling throughout the day to offer him gifts of food - which the hospital had to turn away as doctors remained concerned that he should be on a strict, light diet - he appeared outwardly healthy.

Asked how he had kept his sanity, he said: 'When you need to eat, when you need to drink, you keep your mind alive. And you pray. I prayed  to God all the time. I prayed to stay alive.'
He said thoughts of his family gave him added resolve. 'I thought about them all the time,' he told MailOnline. 'I think that by now they think that I am dead. So I want to go home and show them that I am alive. I thank God that I am here.'

The currents continued to pull him westwards - and it was by luck that he hit land, the most southerly atoll in the Marshall Islands.
If he had missed that landfall, his boat would possibly have drifted on for hundreds of miles more - and he doubts whether he would have survived that long.
'My boat hit, and I swam ashore. I had the strength to do that.'
When he stumbled ashore he slept under the coconut trees, unaware that he was close to a village.
Then he saw two women staring at him and shouting at the stranger who had landed on their territory in ragged shorts, unkempt hair and a bushy beard.

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