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Salvadoran sea survivor still too frail to go home

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 8, 2014 at 1:03 p.m.

MAJURO, Marshall Islands — The Salvadoran man who says he spent more than a year drifting across the Pacific Ocean before making landfall in the Marshall Islands is too weak to travel and will remain in the island nation for a while, an official said Saturday.

Diego Dalton, an official with El Salvador's embassy in Tokyo, said Jose Salvador Alvarenga's health was "very frail" and that he would not return home until he was able to make the journey.

Alvarenga, 37, washed ashore late last month. He was taken last week to the Marshall Islands' capital, Majuro, where he has been resting at a hotel.

Dalton arrived in Majuro late Friday and met with Alvarenga and local officials.

"At this moment, there are no travel plans or definite itinerary," Dalton told reporters Saturday. "His return will depend of when his health allows the long journey back."

Dalton did not comment further on Alvarenga's condition.

Alvarenga's spritely appearance Monday while greeting hundreds of well-wishers in Majuro had many questioning his story. He earlier told officials he left Mexico in late 2012 with another fisherman, who later died, for a day of shark fishing when a storm threw them off course and they began drifting.

But Alvarenga looked much weaker Thursday during a brief public appearance at the hotel, and had to be assisted into the room by two people while others stood by ready to help.

Officials said then that Alvarenga needed to be taken back to the hospital for more medical checks and that it would likely be three or four days before he was fit enough to travel back to El Salvador.


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