A Salvadoran fisherman who survived 438 days lost at sea is now being sued by his dead shipmate’s family over allegations that he ate the man in order to stay alive.
The family of Ezequiel Cordoba, who was reported to have starved to death months into the ordeal, is seeking $1 million, reports Fox News Latino, citing El Diario de Hoy.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga the world’s longest surviving castaway — has repeatedly denied the accusation.
In November 2012, Alvarenga set sail in a small fishing boat from a coastal town in Mexico with Córdoba. He’d agreed to pay the 22-year-old $50 for the planned two-day fishing trip.
Instead, the men ran into a massive storm and seemingly vanished. More than a year later, Alvarenga washed ashore, alone, on an atoll in the Marshall Islands, some 6,700 miles away from where he went missing.
The story Alvarenga, 37, told in the wake of his rescue — surviving on raw fish, turtle blood and his own urine — was nothing short of incredible. After some initial doubts, officials said his account checked out.
His full story is detailed in Jonathan Franklin’s book, “438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea.” In an excerpt, published in The Guardian November, Franklin describes the horrific ordeal, including how Alvarenga was so hungry that he ate his own fingernails and that Córdoba had difficulty stomaching their challenging diet.
Córdoba died after a few months, according to Alvarenga. Before he did, he reportedly made Alvarenga promise two things — that he would not eat his corpse and that he would find Cordoba’s mother and tell her what happened.
Alvarenga met with Córdoba’s mother in May last year. About a month later, however, he was defending allegations that he cannibalized his companion.
In Alvarenga’s account, Córdoba convulsed and died on the floor of the boat with his eyes open. Alvarenga said he continued talking to the corpse for six days, unable to cope with having lost his only companion.
When Alvarenga finally regained his composure, he said he performed as best a burial as he could manage:
First I washed his feet. His clothes were useful, so I stripped off a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. I put that on — it was red, with little skull-and-crossbones — and then I dumped him in. And as I slid him into the water, I fainted.
Read the rest of this story on Huffington Post.