A shipwrecked Dominican survived 24 days in the Caribbean Sea by eating only ketchup before he was rescued by the Colombian Navy, naval authorities in that South American country have said.
In a video released by the Colombian Navy, Elvis Francois, 47, said he had practically nothing to eat during his ordeal.
“I had nothing to eat, just a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder and Maggi (broth cubes). I mixed everything with water to survive for about 24 days”, he said in the video.
He had written the word “help” on the side of his sailboat when it was found 120 nautical miles north-west of Puerto Bolivar, in the northern department of La Guajira of Colombia.
According to a Colombian naval press release, Francois said he was repairing a sailboat at a port in Saint Martin in December 2022 when he was blown out to sea by bad weather.
“Without any knowledge of navigation, he was lost and disoriented at sea, his efforts to maneuver the ship and the equipment on board were useless”, the release said.
According to Francois, he tried to make several phone calls but because of a lack of signal, his attempts were futile.
“I could do nothing but sit and wait. 24 days away from the earth, with no one to talk to, without knowing what to do, or where I was. It was hard, at times I lost hope, I thought of my family”, Francois said.
According to the press statement, on January 15 he saw an aircraft and using a mirror and the sun’s reflection he starting sending signals to it.
“When I saw it pass twice, I understood they had seen me,” he said.
A Colombian naval vessel came to assist him with the support of a merchant ship.
Meanwhile, Francois appeared in a video with an unnamed Colombian man, who he said is the person taking care of him.
In the video he said he is from Anse de Mai.
“My mother them must be worried,” he stated. “So I trying to let them know that I alive.”
The Colombian man said he was making the video to assist Francois.
“He is here in Colombia and I am trying to help him a lot, trying to contact his family,” the man said. “That is why I am making this video in order to collect evidence that he is alive.”
According to the Colombian Navy, Francois has been handed over to immigration services to organize his return to Dominica.