An Indonesian teenager survived seven weeks adrift at sea after his tiny fishing trap lost its moorings and ended up some 2,500 kilometres away in waters near the Pacific island of Guam, his family said Monday.
The harrowing tale of Aldi Novel Adilang, 18 began in mid-July when he was working solo on a fishing hut anchored about 125 kilometres 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 or paddles and was anchored to the seabed with a long rope, but heavy winds knocked it off its moorings and sent Adilang out to sea, local media said.
“His boss told my husband that he went missing,” Adilang’s mother Net Kahiking told AFP from her home in Sulawesi.
“So we just surrendered to God and kept praying hard.”
The teen, who only had enough food to last several days, survived by catching fish, Mirza Nurhidayat, and after he ran out of the cooking gas, “he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking,” he said.
“He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water.”
After being missed by several vessels, the frightened and malnourished teen eventually changed the frequency on a portable radio and his distress call was picked up near Guam by a Japan-bound Panamanian-flagged vessel on August 31, according to the Post.
“I was shocked when his boss told us,” he had been rescued, Adilang’s mother said.
“I was so happy.”
Adilang is the youngest of four siblings and arrived back home on September 8, in good health despite his ordeal.
“He is now back at home and he will be 19 on September 30 — we’re going to celebrate,” his elated mother said.