Armed with just a fishing hut and a Bible, an Indonesian teenager survived seven weeks adrift in the Pacific Ocean after a storm in July tore his vessel away from its moorings.
Aldi Novel Adilang told officials that, with the help of cooking utensils, a gas stove, and a generator, he ate fish and prayed every day of the 1,600-mile journey, The Jakarta Post reported. Adilang even made himself a shower using sticks of bamboo.
The 19-year-old Adilang was a contract worker hired to spend six months as a lamp-keeper on the hut—also called a rompong. Once a week, someone from Adilang’s company came to harvest fish from his traps and deliver him new supplies of water, food, and fuel. But a storm on July 14 snapped off the rope that kept his vessel in place about 80 miles off the northeast coast of Indonesia, a diplomat at the country’s consulate in Osaka told the Post.
A rompong reportedly does not have paddles or an engine, so Adilang was helpless unless someone found him.
“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking,” a consular official told the newspaper. “He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water.”
Adilang only had a few days worth of supplies when he was set adrift, officials have said.
“Aldi said he had been scared and often cried,” Firdaus told the Post, adding that Adilang often waved his clothes or flashed lamps at passing ships. At least 10 passed by without noticing him until he was found on Aug. 31 by a bulk freighter that was headed to Japan, according to a press release from the consulate.
Once he was rescued, Adilang was reportedly given food, clothes, and a haircut en route to Japan. He arrived there on Sept. 6 and was flown back to his family’s village in Indonesia. After a brief quarantine, Adilang is reportedly in good health.
He told local news site TribunManado that he thought he “was going to die out there,” especially when his rompong was circled by a shark. But it was his faith—and his Bible—that kept him alive, Adilang told reporters.