Asia Pacific

Indonesian teenager rescued after seven weeks drifting at sea

AP, Staff Report

An Indonesian teenager has survived about seven weeks adrift at sea after the floating wooden fish trap he was employed to mind slipped its moorings.

The parents of 18-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang and the Indonesian Consulate in Osaka say he was rescued by a Panamanian-flagged vessel off Guam on Aug. 31 and returned to Indonesia earlier this month.

Adilang was employed as the keeper of a rompong — a wooden fishing raft with a hut on top — moored about 78 miles (125 kilometers) off the coast of North Sulawesi.

His father, Alfian Adilang, said the family is overjoyed at his return but angry with his employer.

Local media reports said he survived by eating supplies kept in his hut and catching fish.

The Jakarta Post quoted the Indonesian consul general in Osaka, Mirza Nurhidayat, who oversaw the return of Aldi after his rescue, as saying that, since the device was not a boat, it did not have any paddle or engine.

The rope that had kept Aldi’s floating hut in place had torn, and the strong wind had then blown him far to the north.

“The rompong owner has many rompong, maybe 50, spread out in waters north of Manado,” Mirza said.

On Aug. 31, the bulk carrier Arpeggio sailed past Aldi, who waved his cloth again for help. At first, the ship’s crew did not see him, so Aldi tuned his radio to a frequency a friend of his had once told him to use in case he is blown away and sees a large ship.

Fortunately, the ship’s captain caught the signal. Realizing (there was someone pleading for help], he turned around, Mirza was quoted as saying.

The captain immediately contacted Guam’s coast guard. Because the ship was heading to Japan, Guam’s coast guard told the captain to bring Aldi to Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture.