Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ALIVE -AFTER 8 DAYS AT SEA; Man Swept Away by Tsunami Clings to His Raft of Branches

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

ALIVE -AFTER 8 DAYS AT SEA; Man Swept Away by Tsunami Clings to His Raft of Branches

Article excerpt


A MAN swept out to sea by the tsunami survived for eight days clinging to a tree, eating coconuts and drinking rainwater.

Rizal Shahputra, 23, was rescued by a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, about 100 miles from the shores of Aceh, Indonesia, where he was washed away. His extraordinary story emerged as Britain and the rest of Europe staged a three-minute silence to honour the 150,000 victims of the Asian disaster and as worldwide aid climbed to [pounds sterling]1.5billion.

Mr Shahputra, found weak and badly sunburned on Monday evening, became only the second person to be discovered alive at sea after the disaster. The crew of a container vessel returning to Malaysia from South Africa spotted him standing on a raft of branches and debris and desperately waving to attract their attention.

A member of the Malaysian crew of the MV Durban Bridge took this dramatic photograph. Huang Wen said: "When I saw him I was very surprised. He waved at me - he was standing on what looked like a tree.

He was shouting at us. I couldn't believe it." Mr Shahputra told his rescuers he was cleaning a mosque when the tsunami struck. Children rushed in to warn him of the impending disaster but the waves swept everyone out to sea before they could escape.

At first he had shared the branches with others from his village who had managed to cling on as the waters retreated, but they were all eventually swallowed by the sea.

"At first there were some friends with me," Mr Shahputra told reporters before being taken to hospital in Malaysia early today. "After a few days, they were gone... I saw bodies left and right. Everybody sank, my family members sank. There were bodies around me."

Adrian Arukiasamy, a spokesman for the Malaysian shipping company, said: "It was certainly a miraculous survival." Mr Shahputra, who ate floating coconuts he prised open with a door latch, was in shock when he was found. Last Friday, a Malaysian tuna ship found an Indonesian woman who had held on to a sago palm tree for five days in the Indian Ocean after the tsunami swept her out to sea.

Identified as Ms Malawati, the 23-year-old arrived on Monday in Malaysia's northwestern Penang state, where she is still receiving hospital treatment. …

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