Indonesian teenager survives 49 days adrift at sea in 'fishing hut'

Pauline Gross
September 25, 2018

He had to cope not only with loneliness, but also hunger, thirst and fear.

The Indonesian Consulate in Osaka, Japan, said the 18-year-old was rescued by a Panamanian-flagged vessel off Guam on August 31, about 1,200 miles (1,920 kilometres) from his original location, and returned to Indonesia with officials earlier this month. Before that, more than 10 ships had sailed past Aldi, failing to spot him as he waved for help.

Mr Aldi's basic hut - known as a Rompong - did have a basic gas-powered stove but no engine or paddle. Rompong is a fish aggregator device shaped like a modest hut. It floats on water, supported by buoys and anchored to the seabed by a long rope. Aldi's job was to keep the lamps lit at night to attract fish for a period of six months.

Each week someone would come to harvest the fish from the traps and deliver to Adilang fresh supplies of food, water and fuel.

The crew provided Aldi with food, clothes, and a haircut, the Post reports.

But on July 14, the hut's moorings gave up, and he had to wait 49 days before a vessel noticed and picked him up near Guam.

Adilang has since been reunited with his family in Indonesia.

But due to high waves, the tanker was unable to attach a rope to Mr Aldi's floating hut. "He drank by sipping water from his clothes".

"Aldi said he had been scared and often cried while adrift", Fajar Firdaus, a diplomat at the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, told the Jakarta Post on Sunday.

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The captain contacted the coastguard of Guam, a tiny U.S. territory, but was told to carry on his planned route to Japan, where Mr Aldi could be helped by his embassy. "Realizing [there was someone pleading for help], he turned around", said Mirza.

After four failed attempts, Aldi made a desperate decision.

"Aldi's story is indeed dramatic", said Nurhidayat.

After weeks at sea, Aldi was already very weak and nearly lost the rope.

The captain immediately contacted Guam's coast guard.

The MV Arpeggio, which rescued Adilang off Guam, contacted the Indonesian mission in Japan when it docked in Tokuyama and officials from the Osaka consulate collected him on September 6, the consulate said in a statement. He flew home to Manado earlier this month.

That changed just after the Arpeggio had passed him, as Aldi was able to dial his radio to a frequency the vessel was using. The Indonesian government has thanked the sailors on the Arpeggio and the Japanese government for his safe return.

After arriving at the Japanese port of Tokuyama on September 6, Aldi had to spend another night on the cargo vessel.

Other reports by GizPress

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