World’s longest-surviving castaway sued for $1 million after being accused of ‘eating his colleague
Jose Salvador Alvarenga — who famously survived after being lost at sea for 438 days — is accused of eating his colleague’s remains in order to survive, according to a $1 million lawsuit filed by the man’s relatives. Alvarenga has long denied cannibalism claims, and his attorney believes the lawsuit was financially motivated.
When he set sail from the coast of Mexico in November 2012, he thought he was setting out on a two-day fishing trip, having paid 22-year-old Ezequiel Cordoba $50 to accompany him. But a vicious storm with 10ft waves knocked out the 25ft boat’s communication systems, and washed their supplies overboard.
As their boat drifted, the castaways ate raw fish, uncooked birds and turtles, and drank their own urine, Alvarenga said later. Cordoba wasn’t as skilled of a survivalist and fell ill after eating a bird. The partners later found a venomous sea snake in the bird’s gut.
Mr Alvarenga befriended the corpse, keeping it on the boat for six days and chatting to it, until he realised his own insanity and threw it overboard. “I could see my death was going to be very, very slow,” he said.
But against all odds, he survived. Mr Alvarenga washed up in the Marshall Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in January 2014. Dazed and emaciated, he was found by a couple living on the island who took him in. His story was initially greeted with incredulity, but accepted as truth once experts confirmed that his experience as a fisherman and physical strength would just about make survival possible.
“I was fifteen. Buddy and I were hoping subway cars from Brooklyn. We went through a tunnel that was a little bit too small. I fractured my skull. He, uh… His brains and bones got spread all over my face and chest. You never forget something like that.”