Man returns to Indonesia after 49 days adrift in Pacific

An Indonesian man has been rescued after floating adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 49 days,

Aldi Novel Adilang (C) is given water aboard a Panamanian shipping vessel on August 31 after being adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 49 days. Photo courtesy of Indonesian Consulate in Osaka, Japan/Facebook
Aldi Novel Adilang (C) is given water aboard a Panamanian shipping vessel on August 31 after being adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 49 days. Photo courtesy of Indonesian Consulate in Osaka, Japan/Facebook

Aldi Novel Adilang, 19, maintained a rompong, a fishing hut atop a raft with no sails or motor, moored by ropes to the seabed 125 miles off the Indonesian coast. Like a lighthouse keeper, his job was to maintain lights used to attract fish, and was brought food and supplies on a weekly basis. A supply vessel would also gather his harvest of fish before leaving.

Equipped with only a two-way radio to report emergencies, his raft broke its moorings in heavy winds on July 14. The craft traveled thousands of miles across the ocean until he was discovered and picked up on Aug. 31 by a Panamanian-flagged shipping vessel near Guam.

Mirza Nurhidayat, Indonesia’s consul general in Osaka, Japan, said at least 10 ships passed Adilang as he waved for rescue but they didn’t see him. After his supply of drinking water ran out, he survived on fish and sea water from his wet clothes, Nurhidayat said.

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The captain of the shipping vessel heard Adilang’s radio communications and rescued him by tossing a rope to him. He arrived in Tokuyama, Japan, the vessel’s destination, on Sept. 6. Adilang was then quarantined for health reasons as Indonesian diplomats prepared documents for his return to Indonesia, and Japanese Coast Guard personnel questioned him.

The following day, he received permission to enter Japan, and flew from Tokyo to Manado, Indonesia on Sept. 8. Adilang, in good health, has since been reunited with his family, the BBC reported on Monday.

ByEd Adamczyk