03/02/2014 05:43 GMT | Updated 03/02/2014 12:59 GMT

'Castaway' Who Survived 16 Months In The Pacific Begs To Return To Mexico (PICTURES)

These are the first pictures of the “castaway” who claims to have survived 16 months adrift in the Pacific by drinking turtle blood.

The man, who first identified himself as Jose Ivan and later claimed his name to be Jose Salvador Albarengo, washed up on the Marshall Islands on 30 January.

With matted long hair and beard and dressed only in a pair of ragged underpants, the man told rescuers who found him that he left his native Mexico in September 2012 with a companion, who died at sea, according to AFP. He had been heading for El Salvador.

jose ivan castaway

Jose Ivan - or Jose Salvador Albarengo - says he survived his ordeal by drinking turtle blood and rainwater

On Sunday he made his first public comments – via an interpreter – and pleaded to be returned to his homeland, The Telegraph reported.

“I want to get back to Mexico. I feel bad, I am so far away. I don’t know where I am or what happened.”

No one in Mexico has come forward yet to say if they know the missing man.

Jose said he survived his ordeal by eating birds and turtles, and drinking rainwater and turtle blood. But no fishing gear has been found on board the fibreglass vessel.


Jose has pleaded to return to his native Mexico

Jose ended up more than 8,000 miles away from home in a 24-foot boat, with broken engines, on the Ebon Atoll, one of the southernmost islands.

"His condition isn't good, but he's getting better," Ola Fjeldstad, a Norwegian anthropology student doing research on Ebon, told the news agency.

"The boat is really scratched up and looks like it has been in the water for a long time."

ebon marshall islands

The locals who found Jose took him to the island's only phone line, at the local council house. Mayor Ione de Brum, who put in a call to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Majuro, the islands' capital.

But Jose may have to stay put in Ebon a little while yet, with the islands' only plane down for maintenance.

The Marshall Islands, home to around 68,000 people, are spread over 1,156 individual islands and islets. It is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defence, funding social services, and the island uses the United States dollar as its currency.

marshall islands

Jose claims he survived 16 months adrift in the Pacific

By Sara C Nelson