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Indonesian teen rescued after 49-day drift at sea

By Xu Yanan (People's Daily)    09:07, September 27, 2018

An Indonesian teenager was rescued on a drifting fishing hut in waters off Guam, surviving 49 days adrift at sea about 1,920 kilometers away from its original mooring place.

The 18-year-old, Aldi Novel Adilang, from Sulawesi, is a lamp keeper for a floating fish hut, locally known as rompong, and was 125 kilometers out at sea where the coastline is not visible. The hut has no paddles or engine, and anchored to the seabed by ropes with a walkie-talkie and weekly supplies, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported.

Aldi was in charge of keeping lamps lighted with a power generator every night to attract fish. His contract with the hut owner was six months. Every week, the company would come to collect the fish and bring him fresh food, clean water and fuel.

In mid-July, heavy winds snapped the hut’s moorings and sent it adrift into the ocean. During the 49-day drift, more than 10 ships passed by but failed to spot him until a Panamanian vessel rescued him.

With only a few days' worth of supplies, Aldi survived by catching fish and cooking them by burning the rompong’s wooden fences. When it didn’t rain for days, “I had to soak my clothes in the sea, then I squeezed and drank the water,” said Aldi.

"(He) said he had been scared and often cried while adrift," Fajar Firdaus, an Indonesian diplomat in Osaka, said.

On August 31, Aldi sent a radio signal to the vessel Arpeggio which sailed past him. The signal was received but the rescue was difficult. High waves that day kept the ship far from the hut. The Arpeggio threw a rope but the rope did not reach Aldi’s rompong. Aldi swam to grab the rope, but was too weak to catch it. “But the ship’s crew managed to catch his hand,” Fajar said.

The Arpeggio docked in Japan on Sept. 6. Aldi flew home to Manado two days later accompanied by consulate officials, and is reportedly in good health.

AP reported that the family was angry with Aldi’s employer. It was the third time the teen’s hut had drifted since he was employed two years ago. The previous two times it had been rescued by the owner’s ship, Aldi said.

The Indonesian consul general in Osaka, Mirza Nurhidayat, told The Jakarta Post that the rompong owner had around 50 rompong spread out in waters north of Manado, Indonesia. Aldi’s mother told AP that the minders earn 130 dollars a month.

As the youngest son in the family, Aldi decided not to work on a romping. “My parents agree,” he said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: 实习生2, Bianji)

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