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article imageCastaway wants privacy when he returns home

By AFP     Feb 7, 2014 in World

The health of a castaway who says he survived a 13-month Pacific odyssey has worsened and he wants the right to privacy when he returns home to El Salvador.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a fisherman, was ordered to rest by doctors in the Marshall Islands after he was released from a hospital following a health scare.

The 37-year-old was supposed to head home Friday, but officials delayed his departure until early next week because doctors ruled he was too weak to fly after he suffered back pain and swelling in his lower extremities.

A diplomat from El Salvador's embassy in Japan, Diego Dalton, met with Alvarenga in the Marshall Islands and "confirmed that the health of Mr Alvarenga is broken," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"His physical condition has to improve for him to begin the return trip, which does not have a defined date," it added.

Doctors have scheduled a follow-up appointment for Alvarenga on Monday, meaning the earliest he is expected to leave the Marshalls is on a flight to Honolulu that night.

"Following the events that he lived through, Mr Jose Salvador Alvarenga has asked for privacy to overcome this experience," the Salvadoran foreign ministry's communications chief, Irene Sanchez, told AFP.

"He wants privacy and does not want to see the media" when he returns, she said, adding that Alvarenga's family has also asked to be left alone.

Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga (L) is helped into a press conference in the Marshall Islan...
Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga (L) is helped into a press conference in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro, on February 6, 2014
-, AFP

Alvarenga had to be helped to his seat at a brief press conference on Thursday and spoke in a dull monotone, contrasting with his upbeat demeanor upon arrival in Majuro earlier in the week, when he waved to onlookers and shouted "Hola, hola".

Alvarenga says he left a Mexican village in late December 2012 on a small fishing boat with a companion and got lost at sea, forcing him to survive by eating raw fish and birds and drinking his own urine, turtle blood and rainwater.

The companion, 24-year-old Ezequiel Cordoba, did not survive the trip.

More about Marshalls, Mexico, Salvador, Transport, Survival
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