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The 19-year-old lamp keeper of a floating fish trap, survived by catching fish and sipping seawater through his clothes. He had his Bible on board.
A 19-year-old Indonesian survived 49 days adrift at sea in the wooden fish trap he was employed to mind until a Panama-flagged vessel rescued him in Guam waters.
Aldi Novel Adilang worked as a lamp keeper on a floating fish trap, known locally as rompong, which floats in the middle of the sea supported by buoys and anchored to the seabed by a long rope.
He was contracted by the fish trap owner to light lamps around the rompong with a power generator every night to attract fish for six months in the Bay of Manado.
Each week, someone from his company would come to harvest the fish and give Aldi a week’s worth of supplies: food, gas for cooking, clean water and fuel for the generator.
On July 14, a strong wind blew Adilang 1,920 kilometres (1,200 miles) to waters near Guam, the Associated Press reported, leaving him to float helplessly without a paddle, nearly 80 miles out in the bay.
He was rescued by a Panamanian-flagged vessel off Guam on August 31, and returned to Indonesia with officials earlier this month, according to the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, Japan.
Before that, more than 10 ships had sailed past Aldi, failing to spot him as he waved for help, because the coastline is not visible from the fishing rafts and the numerous rompong are miles apart from one another.
The 19-year-old said that he turned on a lamp every time he sighted a ship and cannot remember how many passed by “unaware of my ordeal”.
The teenager's father, Alfian Adilang, said the family is overjoyed at his return but angry with his employer.
BIBLE AND PRAYER
Adilang ran out of food within a week and survived on fish and seawater he strained through his clothing.
“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water”, the Indonesian consul general in Osaka told The Jakarta Post.
Interviewed by local news portal TribunManado, Adilang said he thought he “was going to die out there”, and at one point he became suicidal and considered jumping into the ocean.
But he remembered his parents’ advice to pray in times of distress. “I thought I will never meet my parents again, so I just prayed every day”, he said.
He also had a Bible on board, which became a help to overcome the worst moments.