Castaway who survived 438 days at sea sued by dead pal’s family who claim he stayed alive by eating him
A CASTAWAY who survived more than a year at sea is being sued for $US1 million by the family of his dead friend after claims he stayed alive by eating him.
Salvador Alvarenga, 36, washed ashore in January last year on the Pacific’s Marshall Islands after spending 438 days adrift.
He had drifted 10,782km from the coast of Mexico, where the boat he and crewmate Ezequiel Cordoba, 22, were sailing in was crippled by a storm.
Alvarenga, of El Salvador, later told how stayed alive by drinking urine and turtle blood and eating fish and birds he caught by hand.
The tuna fisherman described how, after his best friend starved to death early on, he left the rotting body at the boat’s bow for six days for company.
But the family of Mr Cordoba are now demanding $US1 million compensation after claiming he was a victim of cannibalism, according to reports.
Before and after ... an undated file picture of Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga before (left) setting sail and after (right) he was rescued in Majuro following a 22-hour boat ride from isolated Ebon Atoll. Picture: AFP/Jose Cabezas — Hilary HosiaSource:AFP
Alvarenga’s lawyer, Ricardo Cucalon, denied the castaway had eaten his shipmate but had instead thrown his body into the water.
He pointed out that the lawsuit was launched just days after the long-awaited book about Alvarenga’s ordeal had been published.
He said: “I believe that this demand is part of the pressure from this family to divide the proceeds of royalties.
“Many believe the book is making my client a rich man, but what he will earn is much less than people think.”
Alvarenga was working in a fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s southern Chiapas state when the two men took out a small fishing boat to catch tuna.
Incredible rescue ... Salvador Alvarenga waves to the press after leaving hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador. Picture: AP Photo/Salvador MelendezSource:AP
The craft disappeared during bad weather on 17 November 2012, and no trace of them or the vessel was found during an intense two-week search.
He then washed up on the remote Pacific atoll of Ebon in the Marshall Islands nearly a year and a half later.
After tests, doctors declared him in good physical health. He has a spinal injury but will only need physiotherapy.
He later said he came close to giving up hope of being rescued after several large ships came near his small fishing boat but none tried to rescue him.
Big appetite ... Salvador Alvarenga has lunch at his home in Garita Palmera. Picture: AFP/Jose CabezasSource:Supplied
Alvarenga said: “I always had faith in God that I was going to live, asking Him every day, every night.”
He said he became so hungry he began to grab jellyfish from the water, scooping them up in his hands and swallowing them whole.
The castaway added: “It burned the top part of my throat, but wasn’t so bad.”