Video: An Indonesian teenager’s rescue after 49 days drifting at sea

Screen grabs from the video of the rescue which was shared on Facebook by a crew member.
Screen grabs from the video of the rescue which was shared on Facebook by a crew member.

For seven weeks, a young Indonesian survived adrift at sea on a floating fishing hut. A video has recently emerged showing his rescue on August 31, more than 2,500 kilometres from Indonesia’s coasts, not far from the US island of Guam.

Eighteen-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang was working alone in a traditional fishing hut, a “rompong”, which was moored about 125 kilometres off the Indonesian coast when heavy winds caused its moorings to snap. According to The Jakarta Post, the young man was tasked with monitoring the rompong’s lamps, which lure the fish into traps. Employees from the company he worked for brought him food and supplies once a week, when they came to collect the fish.

On July 14, severe winds broke the long cord that moored the floating fishing hut to the sea bed. It was equipped with neither a motor nor paddles, so it started drifting out to sea. According to the Jakarta Post, more than 10 ships passed by without seeing the young man waving for help. Finally, on August 31, after 49 days adrift, he was finally spotted near the island of Guam, in Micronesia, by a Panamanian ship called the Arpeggio. He was taken aboard and brought to Japan.

A crew member of the Arpeggio, Alilin Cabiguin Lorvin, filmed the rescue and posted the video to Facebook on September 6. It shows the young man climbing a ladder onto the ship, and then sitting on the deck, looking exhausted.


This video shows the rescue of a young Indonesian man who drifted at sea for 49 days. Video by Alilin Cabiguin Lorvin, a crew member on the ship that rescued him. The rescue took place on August 31, 2018; the video was published on September 6, 2018.


In a second post, Lorvin published a series of photos, some of which showed the fishing hut.

Photos published on September 6, 2018.


Adilang had food reserves for just a few days, but he survived by catching fish, which he cooked on board. The Indonesian consul general in Osaka, Mirza Nurhidayat, who organized Adilang’s return to Indonesia, told the Jakarta Post that after the young man ran out of cooking gas, he used the rompong’s wooden fences to build a fire.

According to the consul, who published a statement on social networks, the young man arrived in Tokuyama, Japan, on September 6, then took a plane from Tokyo back to Indonesia on September 8.

On August 31, when Adilang spotted the Arpeggio, he tried to get the ship’s attention by waving his clothing. Since the crew didn’t see him, he tuned his radio to a frequency that a friend had once told him to use in case he ever found himself adrift at sea and spotted a ship, according to the Jakarta Post. When the Arpeggio got the signal, the ship turned around to look for him. The sea was too choppy to get close to fishing hut, but the crew threw him a rope, according to another diplomat from the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, Fajar Firdaus, who was quoted in the Jakarta Post.

“I was shocked when his boss told us [he had been rescued],” Adilang’s mother told AFP. The teenager is now back with his family, and in good health. His mother said he will celebrate his 19th birthday on September 30.