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El Salvador fisherman washes up on shore after year adrift

A Mexican castaway who identified himself as Jose

A Mexican castaway who identified himself as Jose Ivan and later told that his full name is Jose Salvador Albarengo walks with the help of a Majuro Hospital nurse in Majuro after a 22-hour boat ride from isolated Ebon Atoll on February 3, 2014. Jose was washed up on Ebon Atoll on January 30, 2014, and told his rescuers he set sail from Mexico for El Salvador in September 2012 and has been floating on the ocean ever since. AFP PHOTO / Hilary Hosia Credit: Jose Salvador Albarengo in Majuro on Feb. 3, 2014. (Hilary Hosia/Getty)

A fisherman from El Salvador who washed ashore on the Marshall Islands said he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean, drinking turtle blood and catching fish and birds with his bare hands.

Jose Salvador Albarengo, 37, told officials he set sail on a shark fishing trip late in December 2012 from Mexico, 10,000 km (6,200 miles) away, but was blown out to sea.

He was found in a disoriented state on a remote coral atoll where he had been washed up over the weekend in his 7.3-metre (22-foot) fiberglass boat. A police patrol boat took him to Majuro, the capital.

"He got off the boat with a very bushy beard," Jack Niedenthal, a film-maker based on Majuro, told Reuters by telephone.

"He's having trouble walking, his legs are very skinny. I'm not ready to call this a hoax, I think this guy has done some serious time at sea," Niedenthal said after speaking briefly to Albarengo through an interpreter.

A male nurse helped him down the gangplank before he was whisked away to hospital for medical checks.

"It was supposed to be a one-day fishing expedition but they were blown off course by the northern winds," the U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Tom Armbruster, told media.

Albarengo, who has been a fisherman for 15 years, according to the authorities, set sail with another fisherman, aged 15 to 18, but the teenager died a month into their ordeal.

Authorities said they were still gathering information and planned to contact his family in El Salvador and the United States.

The Marshall Islands has a population of 68,000 people spread over 24 coral atolls.

In 2006, three Mexican fishermen picked up by a Taiwanese tuna trawler near the islands said they had spent nearly 9 months at sea after drifting across the Pacific in a flimsy fishing boat.

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