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Sea survivor’s Salvadoran family thought he died

February 4, 2014 • World News


Fatima Alvarenga, the daughter of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, poses for a portrait holding a photograph of herself held by her father when she was a baby, at her family’s home in the village of Garita Palmera, El Salvador, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. The account of her father’s survival after more than 13 months in an open boat has proven a double miracle for his family, who lost touch with him years ago and thought he was dead. Jose Salvador Alvarenga said he left Mexico in December 2012 for a day of shark fishing and ended up on the remote Marshall Islands. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

GARITA PALMERA, El Salvador (AP) — A Salvadoran fisherman’s account of his survival after more than 13 months and about 6,500 miles in an open boat has proved a double miracle for his mother and father, who lost touch with him eight years ago and thought he was dead.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga’s family reacted with joy and tears after two phone calls from their long lost son, who said he was getting medical treatment and food — he later got a shave and a haircut. But he confessed to his mother he didn’t really know where he was.

The family provided details that may help explain his almost unbelievable survival after what may have been as many as 14½ months adrift.

His father, Jose Ricardo Orellana, 65, who owns a store and flour mill in the seaside Salvadoran town of Garita Palmera, described a strong, stocky young man who first went to sea at age 14. “The sea was his thing,” Orellana said.

Maria Julia Alvarenga, 59, said her son always had unusual strength and resilience.

Recounting the phone calls with her son from the Marshall Islands, she broke into tears. “We hadn’t heard from him for eight years, we thought he was dead already. This is a miracle, glory to God.”

Jose Salvador Alvarenga’s 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, said she didn’t remember ever seeing her father, who left El Salvador when she was just over a year old.

“I’m so very Login to read more

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