An Indonesian teenager has been rescued from the ocean after spending 49 days adrift at sea. The 19-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang was rescued by a passing cargo ship and taken to Japan, where he’s made a full recovery and returned home to Indonesia.
Aldi works as a ‘lamp keeper,’ a type of fisherman common in southeast Asia. For months, Aldi and other lamp keepers would live on small rafts called rompongs, lighting lamps to attract and catch fish. Once a week, the company that employed Aldi would collect the fish and resupply his raft. He worked at this job for three years.
A typical rompong is moored so it stays in the same place, and as such has no motor, sails, or oars to manoeuvre. On July 14, a storm broke the moorings on Aldi’s rompong, setting him adrift. With only a week’s worth of supplies, he was quickly forced to resort to catching fish and drinking seawater filtered through his clothes.
Aldi drifted and survived this way for seven weeks, at times nearly giving up. Multiple vessels sailed past his raft, but none saw him or stopped. After nearly losing hope, he was spotted by the cargo ship Arpeggio and taken to Japan. He spent two days in the country before being handed off to the Indonesian consulate in Japan and put on a plane back home to Manado.
“Aldi’s story is indeed dramatic, and we are thankful to all, the ship’s captain and the Japanese authorities that have been very helpful in ensuring Aldi’s return,” said Indonesian consul general Mirza Nurhidayat.