A 19-year-old Indonesian boy was in deep waters as he floated 49 days on a wooden fish trap headed to Guam.
Aldi Novel Adilang, a lamp lighter on a floating fish trap called a rompong, was rescued on Aug. 31 by a Panamanian vessel.
“I thought I will never meet my parents again, so I just prayed every day,” said Adilang, who told the Associated Press that he lit his lamp anytime he spotted another ship.
His rompong — which had been anchored about 78 miles off the coast of North Sulawesi — had been found about 1,200 miles from his original location in Indonesia.
His father Alfian Adilang recalled this was the third time the raft had drifted away. The company’s owner had saved his son the other two times.
Ropes attached to Adilang’s fish trap were snapped by strong winds in mid-July, which sent him adrift with limited supplies.
Normally, when the romping is secure, someone is sent once a week to harvest the trapped fish and give Aldilang food, gas, clean water, and fuel — but that wasn’t possible with Adilang drifting at sea.
“I was on the raft for one month and 18 days” said Adilang.
His food supply ran out after the first week stranded at sea.
“I had to soak my clothes in the sea, then I squeezed and drank the water,” he explained.
“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking.” Indonesian consul general Mirza Nurhidayat told The Jakarta Post.
Adilang sent an emergency message via a hand-held radio and called for help — leading to his rescue by Panamanian-flagged vessel called the MV Arpegio.
The consulate in Osaka said the rescue didn’t come easy, as the waves were rough and a rescue rope didn’t reach Adilang — but he jumped in the water to grab it.
Diplomat Fajar Firdaus said Aldilang “had been scared and often cried while adrift.”
“Aldi’s story is indeed dramatic, and we are thankful to all — the ship’s captain and the Japanese authorities —that have been very helpful in ensuring Aldi’s return,” Mirza said.
Adilang returned home on Sept. 8 and doesn’t wish to work on a rompong anymore.