Latin America & Caribbean

Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga 'mulled suicide'

Jose Salvador Alvarenga Image copyright AFP
Image caption The photomontage shows an undated picture of Mr Alvarenga taken before the alleged trip

A castaway who says he spent 13 months lost in the Pacific told reporters he thought about killing himself twice, despairing from "hunger and thirst".

In an interview to CNN Mexico, Jose Salvador Alvarenga said fear was what stopped him from suicide.

The man, who was found in the Marshall Islands, also said he kept his faith that he would get out of the situation.

Mr Alvarenga says he left Mexico with a friend for a trip in a fibre-glass boat in December 2012.

He says a fisherman colleague who was also in the 7m (24ft)-long boat died at sea.

In a statement, the authorities of El Salvador said they were working with their counterparts in the Marshall Islands to repatriate the Salvadoran national.

'I will get out'

He was rescued on Thursday by people living on the island of Ebon Atoll.

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Media captionVideo footage showed Mr Alvarenga being helped to walk off a boat

"I thought I didn't want to starve or die of thirst. It was very tough," he told CNN.

Mr Alvarenga also suggested he went adrift as his boat's engine stalled, amid strong northerly winds and a strong swell.

He said he could not get a radio signal to alert others of his situation.

Despite despairing at times, he told CNN he never believed he was going to die.

"I didn't think I was going to die. I thought: 'I will get out. I will get out.'"

Wearing only ragged underpants, Mr Alvarenga washed ashore when his boat supposedly floated onto a reef at the small, isolated island.

He claims to have survived the 8,000 km (5,000-mile) ordeal by catching fish, birds and turtles with his bare hands.

Three Mexican fishermen were rescued off the Marshall Islands in August 2006 after what they said was about nine months drifting across the Pacific Ocean.

They survived on rain water, seabirds and fish.

Castaways from Kiribati, to the south, frequently find land in the Marshall islands after ordeals of weeks or months at sea in small boats.

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