Aldi Novel Adilang was working as a lamp keeper on a floating fish trap, called a rampong, around 80 miles off the Indonesian coast when strong winds snapped the moorings on July 19.
With no paddle or engine to control the mooring’s direction, the 19-year-old was helpless as the fish trap drifted miles across the ocean towards Guam.
Adilang’s supplies of food and water ran out after a few days, forcing the teenager to burn wood from the rampong’s hut to cook fish he caught from the ocean. He stayed alive for the next seven weeks by sipping seawater that had been filtered through his clothes.
‘After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking,’ said Mirza Nurhidayat, Indonesia’s consul general in Osaka, Japan, who was quoted by The Jakarta Post. ‘He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water.’
He reached breaking point after around 10 ships had passed by without spotting him in the water. As hopelessness set in, Adilang admitted he had contemplated jumping into the ocean to end his ordeal. But it was at this point that he remembered the advice of his parents to pray in times of distress.
He told the Tribun Manado that he read a Bible that was kept on the float as well.
His ordeal finally ended when he was spotted by a passing cargo ship, the MV Arpeggio, on August 31. Even the rescue operation proved to be an ordeal as the cargo ship was so large that its waves nearly caused the tiny fish trap to capsize. When it was apparent the vessel could not get close to the fishing trap, Adilang jumped into the ocean and the crew pulled him in on a rope.
The Arpeggio was on its way to Japan and took Adilang there, where he was assisted by Indonesia’s consul general.
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