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Salvador sea survivor flies out of Pacific island



MAJURO, Marshall Islands (AP) - A Salvadoran man who says he drifted in an open boat across the Pacific for more than a year thanked people in the Marshall Islands for taking care of him and said he was "doing very well" before starting his journey home Monday.

Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak bid Jose Salvador Alvarenga farewell at the airport.

"Thank you for the support, the support by your people,"Alvarenga told him in Spanish in a soft voice.

Alvarenga, clean-shaven and walking without assistance, said he was "doing very well."

He told officials during his two-week recuperation at a hospital and a hotel in the capital, Majuro, that he left Mexico in late 2012 with another fisherman, who later died, when a storm threw them off course and he drifted across 6,500 miles (10,500 kilometers) of open ocean. He said he survived on fish, birds and turtles.

About 50 officials, volunteers and reporters gathered at the airport to see him off. He was flying first to Hawaii and then on to El Salvador be reunited with his family.

Alvarenga, accompanied by Diego Dalton, an official from El Salvador's embassy in Tokyo, said that people of the Marshall Islands were "very good" to him, and called them "my very good friends."

Alvarenga's spritely appearance a week ago while greeting hundreds of well-wishers in Majuro had many questioning his story. But he 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.

His family in El Salvador has spoken to him by phone since the story broke out. Alvarenga's 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, said last week that she didn't remember ever seeing her father, who left El Salvador when she was just over a year old.

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Lazaraescudaro February 11 2014 at 1:11 PM

Maybe he had a fantasy about cannibalism and planned the trip with his friend.

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SPARKS INC OHIO February 11 2014 at 9:56 AM

he looks too fat for been lost for so long and not been able to eat. he looks as if he was eating at 8 meals a day sitting on his fat ass in the front of a tv set

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itooso February 11 2014 at 9:32 AM

Probably we will never know the real story.

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Jazzzy February 11 2014 at 5:47 AM

I don't know but it seems FISHY to me. Just saying!

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gjeepn1557 February 11 2014 at 4:04 AM

there have been people that have been lost at sea for even just a few weeks and they look NOTHING like him when he was found. Hey, but some people will do and say anything to get some attention and fame and money. The guy is a fraud. Unless, there is absolute proof this guy was lost at sea for over a year then I for one don't believe it for a moment. If a Movie is made on his so called "journey" then he'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

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cgregrn February 11 2014 at 3:18 AM

that one fit bastard, has he discovered the fountain of youth

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J.R. February 11 2014 at 1:45 AM

This is not a miracle, nor a fake event. This man was first identify as Mexican by news cables because he gave the name and address of a town in southern Mexico. This guy an other person sail to fish sharks in El Salvador, but they end up somewhere else. This guy was first interview by Mexican diplomats from Manila. At first, news cables stated that he was going to fly to Mexico and than El Salvador. At the end the Salvadorian government came to his rescued.

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Maritza February 11 2014 at 1:27 AM

Lier, lier, lier!!! Don't give me that **** about being lost at sea! It is not true! He just run away to not care of family!

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Leesa February 11 2014 at 12:44 AM

not buying his "story".....must have been on the 3 hour tour with the Skipper and Glilligan.....ROFL @ those who believe his story!!!!

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napachiefs February 11 2014 at 12:35 AM

Ocean Big Foot:

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~~ 2592000

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