Colombia has rescued a sailor stranded in the Caribbean for 24 days: NPR

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Members of the Colombian Navy attend to Castaway Elvis Francois after he was rescued near the La Guajira department, in the far north of Colombia. According to the Navy, the 47-year-old man from Dominica said he had been stranded for 24 days in the Caribbean Sea after repairing a boat last December near the island of Sint-Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles.

Colombian Navy press office via AP


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Colombian Navy press office via AP

Members of the Colombian Navy attend to Castaway Elvis Francois after he was rescued near the La Guajira department, in the far north of Colombia. According to the Navy, the 47-year-old man from Dominica said he had been stranded for 24 days in the Caribbean Sea after repairing a boat last December near the island of Sint-Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles.

Colombian Navy press office via AP

BOGOTA, Colombia – The Colombian navy rescued a man from Dominica who says he survived 24 days adrift in the Caribbean on a sailboat by eating ketchup, garlic powder and seasoning cubes.

Elvis Francois, 47, had scrawled the word “help” in English on the boat’s hull, which officials said was vital to saving it.

The sailboat was spotted from the air 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira peninsula and Francois was taken to the port city of Cartagena by a passing carrier, the Colombian navy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Francois told Colombian authorities that his ordeal began in December when currents swept the sailboat out to sea while it was carrying out repairs off the island of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where does he live

“I called my friends, they tried to call me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait,” Francois recalled in a video released by the navy.

He said it was in ketchup bottle, garlic powder and Maggi cubes.

Cmdr. Carlos Urbano Montes told The Associated Press on Thursday that Francois said he collected rainwater with clothes. He said Francois was found in good health, but told the officer he had lost weight.

Francois said on the video that he had to take water out of the boat regularly so that it would not sink. He also tried to light a fire to send a distress signal without success.

Finally, a plane passed by and pointed with a mirror. He said the navy told him it was seen when the plane passed again.

“At some point I lost hope and thought about my family, but I thank the coast guards. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be telling the story,” said Francois.

Urbano Montes said that the sailboat was abandoned at sea when Francois was picked up by the merchant ship.

The navy said Francois received a medical examination ashore and was then handed over to immigration authorities for repatriation to Dominica.

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