José Salvador Alvarenga’s story captivated the world nearly two years ago, when the Salvadoran-born fisherman was rescued in the South Pacific having spent 14 months adrift in a small fishing boat.
But this week, Alvarenga’s heartwarming story – which has been turned into a book, “438 Days,” by the English journalist, Jonathan Franklin – took a grisly turn.
Relatives of the man who he was shipwrecked with, Ezequiel Córdova Ríos, and who reportedly starved to death months into the ordeal, have filed a million-dollar lawsuit against Alvarenga alleging that he cannibalized his shipmate to stay alive, according to the Salvadoran paper, El Diario de Hoy.
Alvarenga, a Salvadoran who had been living on the Pacific Coast of southern Mexico for around 15 years, went out shark-fishing on a 25-foot fiberglass boat on Nov. 17, 2012, accompanied by a 22-year-old he knew only as Ezequiel.
According to the story he told officials in the Marshall Islands, where he was finally rescued in February 2014, a storm blew the fishermen off course, and soon they were lost and adrift. Short on food, they caught what birds and fish they could and drank their own urine to stay hydrated.