El Salvador working with Mexico to help castaway home
Jose Alvarenga, a fisherman who says he survived over a year adrift in the Pacific, steps off a patrol boat in Majuro on with the help of a hospital nurse on February 3, 2014 - by Giff Johnson
San Salvador is coordinating with Mexico's ambassador in the Philippines, Julio Camarena, and El Salvador's honorary consul in the Philippines, Maria Josefina Bayont Ortigas, to start Alvarenga's repatriation process, the foreign ministry said Monday in a statement.
When he was first rescued in the Marshall islands, the Salvadoran shark and shrimp fisherman -- who had been living in Mexico for years -- was mistakenly identified as a Mexican with the family name Albarengo.
Alvarenga said he was on a shark-fishing expedition in Mexico with a youth named Xiquel when strong winds blew them off course.
The surviving fisherman was found disoriented and clad only in ragged underpants last Thursday, after his 24-foot (7.3-meter) fiberglass boat floated onto a reef at Ebon Atoll, the southernmost cluster of coral islands in the Marshalls.
Unable to speak English, he communicated to rescuers through pictures and gestures that he had survived the 12,500 kilometer (8,000 mile) odyssey by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.
Alvarenga, 37, says he set out December 24, 2012 when he became lost and his incredible odyssey began.
His parents feared he had been killed. "Thank God he is alive. We are overjoyed... I just want him here with us," his mother Maria Julia Alvarenga told CNN.
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