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Salvadoran castaway speechless in homecoming

Published on Feb 12, 2014 2:38 PM
Salvadorean castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga is given a microphone upon his arrival at El Salvador international airport in San Luis Talpa on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) - The Salvadoran castaway who says he spent 13 months adrift in the Pacific returned home on Tuesday, appearing in a wheelchair and too emotional to speak as his nation welcomed him.

Shaking his head and waving at dozens of news cameras in El Salvador's main airport, Mr Jose Salvador Alvarenga muttered only a few inaudible words, two weeks after washing ashore in the Marshall Islands.

Returning home after a two-day plane trip, the 37-year-old fisherman handed the microphone back to Foreign Minister Jaime Miranda before covering his eyes with one hand and being wheeled away by officials.

Onlookers and airport staff applauded Mr Alvarenga, who was wearing a dark blue T-shirt, khaki pants and sneakers, and sporting a clean shave and new haircut.

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