Salvadoran castaway released from hospital

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) - The Salvadoran fisherman who says he survived 13 months adrift in the Pacific was released from a hospital on Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014, after a week-long stay, but his destination was kept secret.

"I'm doing well, thank you very much," Mr Jose Salvador Alvarenga told reporters as he walked out of hospital near San Salvador with the health minister and a nurse holding his arms.

Mr Alvarenga had been expected to return to his family's coastal village of Garita Palmera after he returned to his homeland last week following an odyssey that had taken him from Mexico to the Marshall Islands.

But the 37-year-old, who according to doctors has developed a phobia of the sea, told reporters: "I don't want to return to Garita Palmera."

Wearing a blue long-sleeve shirt and khaki pants, Mr Alvarenga waved and hugged his mother and father outside the emergency room exit of the San Rafael National Hospital in the Santa Tecla suburb before disappearing from view.

In an apparent attempt to lose the gaggle of reporters, several sport-utility vehicles left the hospital in various directions.

Doctors declared Mr Alvarenga in remarkable physical health despite an ordeal in which he survived by eating raw fish and bird flesh while drinking turtle blood, rainwater and his own urine.

But they warned last week that he was psychologically weak, prescribing him antidepressants and anxiety medication.

Mr Alvarenga washed ashore in the Marshall Islands on Jan 30, telling reporters he had survived a 12,500km voyage in a seven-metre fibreglass boat after setting off from Mexico's Pacific coast in late 2012.