A 19-year-old teenager from Indonesia managed to survive 49 days adrift at sea, living in a fishing hut until he was finally rescued by a Panama ship and brought back home.
Aldi Novel Adilang hails from Sulawesi and has been working as a lamp keeper on a floating fish trap, which is locally known as a ‘rompong’ and is located about 125km out at sea. His job was to keep all of the lights of the rompongs on, which are specially designed to be able to attract fish, and he had been doing this job for the past three years, since he was 16, according to his dad. And then, every week, someone from the company he was working for would come and harvest all the fish that was caught in the traps, while supplying Aldi with more food, water, and fuel to keep working.
The wooden hut he was working on was just one of the 50 that the company owns and all of them are spread across Manado, Indonesia. Each hut is anchored to the seabed with a long rope and is suspended with buoys. Unfortunately, due to heavy winds that occurred in the middle of July, Aldi’s hut’s moorings snapped and sent him far into the ocean. To make matters worse, Aldi only had the equivalent of a few days worth of food and water supplies. So he had to survive by catching other fish, burning the wood that his hut was built from so he could cook it, and drink seawater through his clothes, to avoid drinking too much salt.
According to the Indonesian consulate in Japan, around 10 ships sailed by Aldi’s hut, but none of them noticed him until a ship from Panama sailed by and finally got him out of the waters off Guam, at the very end of August. This was over a month and a half later.
The teenager was so distressed by the events that he had even considered jumping into the ocean and committing suicide. Fortunately, he managed to recall his parent’s advice to always pray when he’s in distress. And having a bible on board made things easier for him to follow their rule. After being rescued, he arrived in Tokuyama on September 6th and finally flew to his home in Manado on September 8th.