Castaway catches flight home after 13 months adrift in Pacific

Feb. 10, 2014 at 2:11 PM

MAJURO, Marshall Islands, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A Salvadoran who claimed to have been adrift at sea for 13 months before landing in the Marshall Islands was on his way home Monday, officials said.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga's account of his months floating across the Pacific Ocean at first raised eyebrows, but officials say they have no reason to doubt his tale, CNN reported.

Alvarenga was extremely weak and wearing only tattered underwear when residents discovered him Jan. 30. A live bird, apparently intended as his next meal, was found tied to the boat.

He told rescuers he and a companion set off from Mexico on a one-day fishing trip in late 2012. Blown off course and caught in a storm, they eventually lost their engines. The teenage companion died of starvation about a month later.

Health problems prevented Alvarenga from returning home last week, but Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Phillip Muller said Monday the former castaway was well enough to travel.

Alvarenga did so, boarding a flight for Hawaii. He was expected to arrive in El Salvador Tuesday.

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