Indonesian teenager rescued after drifting 7 weeks at sea


Aldi had what the Jakarta Post described as "one of the loneliest jobs in the world", as a lamp keeper for a floating fish aggregator called a rompong.

In this undated photo released by Indonesian Consulate General in Osaka, 18-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang is seen on a wooden fish trap floating in the waters near the island of Guam.

Adilang, who is the youngest son of four siblings, said he no longer wants to work on a rompong. But the line anchoring the hut had snapped in high winds, turning Aldi into a castaway. The small hut sat on a rectangular wooden platform and was protected by a thatched roof.

Working alone, far from the sight of the coast, the boy would be visited once a week by the trap's owner who brought him water, food and fuel, and would communicate with boats by a hand-held radio.

"After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong's wooden fences to make a fire for cooking", Mirza Nurhidayat, another consular official, told the Jakarta Post.

When it did not rain for days, he said he "had to soak my clothes in the sea, then I squeezed and drank the water".

An Indonesian teenager was rescued after 49 days adrift in the Pacific Ocean, national media reported on Monday.

On Aug 31, he was finally picked up by the bulk carrier Arpeggio, which took him to its destination Japan.

The Indonesian Consulate in Osaka, Japan, says the 18-year-old was rescued by a Panamanian-flagged vessel off Guam on August 31, about 1,200 miles from his original location, and returned to Indonesia with officials earlier this month. The teen had been contracted for six months to light lamps around the hut with a power generator nightly to attract fish.

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But it was on July 14 when strong winds broke the mooring and pushed him thousands of kilometers away from home to Guam waters.

Before that, more than 10 ships had sailed past Mr Aldi, failing to spot him as he waved for help.

That changed just after the Arpeggio had passed him, as Aldi was able to dial his radio to a frequency the vessel was using.

His hopes of rescue were dashed repeatedly when 10 passing ships failed to come to his aid, Indonesian diplomats said.

As video of the encounter shows, the freighter dwarfed the fish hut. Other necessities followed, from a set of clothes to a haircut - given by the ship's cook, the Post reports.

The ship was on its way to Japan, where it landed in Osaka on Sept 6.

Adilang was quarantined for health reasons and entered the country a day later.

Aldi arrived in Japan on September 6 from where he was flown from back to Indonesia after consular officials verified his identity.