Teen rescued after seven weeks at sea in floating hut

Aldi Novel Adilang sent adrift after floating fish trap became unmoored in strong winds

Adilang is looked after by crew members after being brought onto the cargo ship Arpeggio 
(Image credit: Indonesian consulate, Osaka)

An Indonesian teenager who survived 49 days on the ocean after his wooden hut was pushed out to sea by strong winds has been reunited with his family.

Aldi Novel Adilang, 19, was plucked from the ocean by a cargo ship near the US territory of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean on 31 August.

He had been working as a keeper on a floating fish trap called a rompong, anchored to the seabed around 75 miles off the Indonesian coast, when unusually strong winds broke his mooring ropes on 19 July, sending the wooden hut adrift.

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Despite lacking paddles or sails and only equipped with a week’s worth of food, gas and drinking water, the 19-year-old was able to survive for seven weeks lost at sea.

As well as eating fish caught from the ocean, Adilang “drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water”, said Mirza Nurhidayat, the Indonesian consul-general who oversaw the young man’s return home.

“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Adilang said that more than ten ships had failed to notice him before the Arpeggio picked up his radio signal.

At times, he considered ending his life by jumping into the ocean, The Guardian reports, but credited his Christian faith for keeping him alive, saying he prayed and read the Bible for comfort during his ordeal.

After a week on board the Arpeggio, Adilang was dropped off at the vessel’s next port of call, in Japan, where he was met by Indonesian consular officials.

Adilang, right, poses with a consulate official after his arrival in Japan

Now reportedly in good health, he has returned to his family’s home near Manado, in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province.

“Aldi’s story is indeed dramatic,” said Nurhidayat. “We are thankful to all - the ship’s captain and the Japanese authorities - that have been very helpful in ensuring Aldi’s return.”

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