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Mysterious castaway drifted 13 months in the Pacific

A mysterious castaway claiming to have been lost at sea for 13 months is now safely back on land, but many questions remain about how he could have lived on his small boat for so long as it drifted across the Pacific Ocean.  

The man calling himself Jose Ivan Alvarengo turned up in a heavily damaged boat on a remote coral atoll in the Marshall Islands, claiming that he had been living off fish and turtles he had caught and relying on rainwater, and sometimes his own urine, to drink.

Alvarengo says he is 37 and is now in a local hospital recovering from his ordeal. In a hospital-bed interview with the Telegraph of London, Alvarengo told of how he hit land.

I had just killed a bird to eat and saw some trees, Alvarengo said.

Alvarengo recalls that once he got to land; he slept and woke up the next morning to the sound of a rooster. He saw chickens and a small house. Two native women were screaming and yelling because he didnt have any clothes on except for his ripped underwear.

He claims to have set off from a port near the southwestern Mexican city of Tapachula, near the border of Guatemala, for what was supposed to be a one-day expedition to catch sharks on December 21, 2012. Alvarengo and a teenage companion were blown off-course by northerly winds and then caught in a storm, eventually losing use of their engines.

Four weeks into the trip the young man died because he refused to eat raw birds. There are no details on what Alvarengo did with the boys body. Alvarengo had said his companions death had him contemplating suicide.

He has told authorities that he is a citizen of El Salvador but has lived in Mexico for the past 15 years and wishes to be repatriated back to Mexico.

Government officials have been in contact with Mexico's ambassador to the Marshall Islands, concerning Alvarengo in hopes he can contact El Salvadoran authorities. The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying it has sent personnel from its embassy in the Philippines "to learn directly about the case."

If Alvarengo's story proves true, the trip across the Pacific would have taken him across roughly 5,000 miles of open ocean before ending in the Marshall Islands, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, in the northern Pacific.

Conditions in the Pacific make the timeline of Alvarengo's journey plausible, according to Judson Jones, a producer for CNN Weather.