4 Feb 2014

Veracity of castaway's story accepted for time being in Majuro

10:45 pm on 4 February 2014

People in the Marshall Islands appear to be accepting the story of the El Salvadorean man who washed up on a remote atoll after a 13-month vigil drifting in the Pacific ocean.

Jose Salvador Albarengo landed on Ebon atoll last week in a seven metre fibreglass boat, claiming to have drifted after getting lost in a storm off the Mexico coast in late 2012.

The 37-year-old told Marshall Islands officials he survived by eating turtles, birds and sharks that he caught with his bare hands.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says basic details about Albarengo, such as his being a fisherman who went missing in late 2012, have reportedly been corroborated by his family in Mexico.

"Some people were saying well he looks too healthy. But what do you say to that? He did wash up here on a boat last week and I think until somebody can look into it more, that's what we have got. He showed up and believe me people don't wash into Ebon atoll by accident. It is not something that happens - anytime in 50 years, I doubt they have had something like this, so it is quite surprising but nevertheless there he is and that's his story."

Giff Johnson