Thursday 19 April 2018

Dead fisherman's family demand answers from 'miracle survivor'

Maria Julia Alvarenga, mother of castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga
Maria Julia Alvarenga, mother of castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga
Jose Salvador Alvarenga gets off a ship in Majuro, the Marshall Islands, after he was rescued from being washed ashore on the tiny atoll of Ebon

Nick Allen Chiapas, Mexico and Jonathan Pearlman Majuro

The family of a man believed to have died during Jose Salvador Alvarenga's epic voyage across the Pacific have asked that the castaway be returned to Mexico to answer their questions.

Mr Alvarenga washed up in the Marshall Islands last week claiming to have drifted 6,500 miles from Mexico over the course of more than a year, surviving by drinking the blood of turtles and seabirds.

While recovering there the castaway said he had a companion called 'Ezequiel' who had died after about a month from refusing to eat. According to the civil defence office in Chiapas, Mexico, a small fishing boat carrying two men named Cirilo Vargas and Ezequiel Cordoba, disappeared on November 17, 2012. Mr Alvarenga's parents, who live in El Salvador, have said he was known there as 'Cirilo'.

In a remote spot up the coast from the Mexican fishing hamlet of Costa Azul, The Daily Telegraph found the family of fisherman Ezequiel Cordoba (22), who they said had been missing since that day.

Through tears, his grandmother Dominga Mendoza said: "I always had hope that we'd see him again one day, that he'd come home. I feel so sad. But until we heard his name on the news, I had hope. I ask God to look after him."

Both Mr Alvarenga (37), who was known locally by the nickname La Chancha (the pig), and Mr Cordoba, known as Pinata, disappeared in a storm that still weighs heavily on the local community. Three boats with six fishermen on board were lost. All had been presumed dead. That leaves open the possibility that Mr Cordoba was on one of the other boats.

However, Jorge Cisneros (51), a fisherman who survived the storm, said: "There was a boy on the boat with La Chancha. We didn't know him well because he had just started fishing but we called him Pinata."

The Cordoba family knew Mr Alvarenga only vaguely and said Ezequiel began fishing two months before he disappeared. Speaking at their modest home, his brother Romeo Cordoba (29), also a fisherman, said: "We ask the authorities to bring the shipwrecked man, La Chancha, back here or take some of us to meet him, so we can find out was it really our brother who he is talking about. If it is, why did he die? Why wouldn't he eat raw fish and birds? What did he do with his body? There is a lot of confusion and we want to hear it from La Chancha.

"It's a miracle that La Chancha survived at sea for 14 months, and we feel no anger towards him.

"We understand this was an accident and how dangerous the sea can be. But we need confirmation from him before we can accept his death." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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