News Americas

Friday 22 August 2014

Castaway's unbelievable tale of survival is backed up by science

Harriet Alexander

Published 17/02/2014 | 02:30

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Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga speaks to journalists in an ambulance on his way to hospital
Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga speaks to journalists in an ambulance on his way to hospital

When a bedraggled and bewildered Jose Salvador Alvarenga washed up on a remote Pacific atoll claiming he had been adrift for 13 months, few people believed his tale.

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But now scientists in Hawaii have published new research into ocean currents, which leads them to believe that his story could actually be true.

Mr Alvarenga (37) said that he had set sail from Mexico to fish for shark in December 2012, and had not seen land since.

Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, from the University of Hawaii, used their computer modelling systems to "place" 16 electronic tracers into the ocean from almost exactly the same spot, at the same time that Mr Alvarenga left land.

Mr Maximenko and Mr Hafner charted the positions of their tracers, as part of their research into ocean currents at the International Pacific Research Centre.

"Alvarenga's claim that he had been adrift for 13 months and that he came from Mexico falls well within the model's limits and is consistent with the prevailing pattern of wind and ocean currents during his ordeal," they concluded.

Medical experts have also said that his tale of living off turtles, fish and seabirds is possible – albeit extremely rare.

Mr Alvarenga was greeted in El Salvador as a returning hero, but was overwhelmed by the attention – uttering a few inaudible words before being whisked off to hospital. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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