A 19-year-old boy has finally been rescued from the ocean after he spent 49 days adrift at sea in a small fishing hut.
Aldi Novel Adilang works as a lamplighter on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Back in mid-July, the young man had been fulfilling his job of maintaining the lights aboard a floating fishing trap called a “rompong”.
Designed similarly to a small hut, the rompong has no paddles or engines of any kind. It floats on the ocean’s surface and uses lights to lure in fish.
While Aldi had been aboard the vessel during a particularly windy night, the ropes that kept the rompong moored to the seabed snapped, and he was set adrift.
He only had a few days worth of food, water, and fuel, so he managed to survive by catching fish and cooking them over fires that he made using the wooden fencing of the rompong. He also reportedly drank saltwater through his shirt to minimize his salt intake.
“[He] said he had been scared and often cried while adrift,” Indonesian diplomat Fajar Firdaus told The Jakarta Post. “Every time he saw a large ship, he said, he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him. None of them … saw [him].”
Finally, after spending a month and a half at sea, he was eventually spotted by a Panamanian vessel more than 77 miles (125 kilometers) at sea in Guam waters. Officials say they are unsure as to how he wasn’t dehydrated upon his rescue.
The sailors took the young man to the Indonesian consulate in Japan where he was flown home to his family two days later, reportedly in good health.
Overjoyed by her son’s safety, Aldi’s mother said that their family will be celebrating his return.