Teenager remarkably survives 49 days lost at sea in a 'fishing hut'
A teenager from Indonesia has been found alive and well after being lost at sea for 49 days.
Aldi Novel Adilang, who is only 18 years old, became stranded in the open ocean after the "rompong" (floating fishing hut) he was working on became unmoored just over two months ago. Adilang was a "lampkeeper", and his job in the hut was to keep the torches lit in order to lure in fish to be caught.
Unfortunately, due to the type of fish he was tasked with catching, the teenager's hut had to be positioned 125km out to sea. Because of this, Adilang was already too far out to swim back to shore when the rope holding the rompong in place snapped in a storm.
It was discovered that the 18-year-old had become stranded when another worker on the rompong, whose job it was to bring food to Adilang once a week and collect the fish he'd caught, found that the hut had been swept away on July 14th during a heavy storm.
"His boss told my husband that he went missing," said Net Kahiking, Adilang's mother. "So we just surrendered to God and kept praying hard."
And now, amazingly, he has returned home.
According to the teenager, he was able to sustain himself by catching fish and cooking it by burning some of the fences around the rompong. He also managed to stay hydrated by sipping seawater through his clothes (thus minimising how much salt got through).
As he had been working on the hut - one of 50 owned by his employer - since he was 16, Adilang was clearly well-adapted to surviving in isolated conditions. Nevertheless, the experience was a terrifying and lonely one for the young man, and he reported being disheartened at seeing several ships go by, before he was finally picked up and rescued by a Panamanian ship on August 31st.
After he was rescued, Adilang travelled with the ship's crew to its intended destination of Japan. When they arrived on September 6th, the teenager was given a landing permit "due to disaster", and arrangements were made for him to return home.
"[He] said he had been scared and often cried while adrift," said Fajar Firdaus, an Indonesian diplomat in Osaka, Japan, in a statement to The Jakarta Post. "Every time he saw a large ship, he said, he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him. None of them stopped or saw [him]."
During his time adrift at sea, Adilang apparently became incredibly depressed and suicidal, and at one point considered jumping into the ocean. However, he says that thinking of his parents and praying kept him hopeful, and he was able to retain his sanity long enough for someone to find him.
The young man eventually flew back home on September 8th - almost two months after the fishing hut got unmoored - and is reportedly in good health.
It is unclear what, if anything, will happen to the company that employed Adilang, but this incident must surely be a wakeup call for older industries to ensure that the safety of their employees is up to scratch.