Survivor clung to floating tree and ate coconuts
Thursday 06 January 2005
For eight days Rizal Shahputra clung on for dear life, adrift in the Indian Ocean on an uprooted palm tree as one by one scores of his family, friends and neighbours slipped below the water's surface around him.
He had been cleaning the mosque in his home at Banda Aceh when the tsunami struck. Grabbing whatever he could to keep afloat, he was sucked 100 miles out to sea.
He survived on a diet of floating coconuts and rainwater and, sunburnt and suffering cuts and bruises, he was rescued by a passing container ship and taken to the Malaysia's Port Klang, where yesterday he described his escape.
"At first, there were some friends with me ... After a few days, they were gone. ... I saw bodies left and right," the 23-year-old said. "Everybody sank, my family members sank. There were bodies around me."
The first he knew of the tsunami was when children rushed in to the mosque to warn him. But the surging waves swept them out to sea before they could escape.
During his eight days afloat at least one ship sailed by without noticing him before the crew of the Japanese-owned MV Durban Bridge spotted him floating 100 miles west of Aceh. The ship's chief officer, Huang Wen Feng, described Mr Shaputra's survival as a miracle. "When I saw him, I was very very surprised to see someone standing," he said. "He was shouting at us. I couldn't believe it."
It was the second such sea rescue following the tsunami. On Friday, a Malaysian tuna-fishing boat rescued a 23-year-old woman from Aceh who had clung on to the trunk of a palm tree for five days
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers recruited by the Shia Houthi rebels who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...