According to The Jakarta Post, on July 14, just a few months after Adilang took up a new six-month post on a rompong, things took a turn for the worse — the rope that anchored the floating hut to the seafloor suddenly snapped. A rompong is a floating hut used to capture fish in open waters. Adilang was hired by the rompong's owner to light lamps around the hut as a way to attract fish.
Before Adilang was sent floating some 1,300 miles away from home, his only contact with other humans was when the rompong's owner would send someone to collect the trapped fish and hand Adilang his supplies for the week, which consisted of food, gas for cooking, clean water and fuel for the generator. He also had a walkie-talkie.
— Natanel Anastasye (@naztaaa) September 22, 2018
With only a week's worth of supplies, Adilang tapped into his survival skills and managed to stay alive with just the resources he'd brought for his shift on the rompong.
"After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong's wooden fences to make a fire for cooking," Mirza Nurhidayat, Indonesia's consul general in Osaka, Japan, told the Post. The teenager also filtered seawater with a shirt. "He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water," Nurhidayat explained.
Adilang's days mostly consisted of catching fish in the morning and reading his Bible in the afternoon, NBC News reported, citing local media outlets. The inventive castaway even created a makeshift shower by using bamboo sticks.
It wasn't until August 31 that a crew aboard the Panama-flagged MV Arpeggio spotted Adilang, who was frantically waving a piece of cloth in hope of catching their attention.
"Aldi said he had been scared and often cried while adrift," Fajar Firdaus, a diplomat at the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, told the Post. "Every time he saw a large ship, he said he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him; none of them stopped or saw Aldi."
The Arpeggio made its way past Adilang, too, until he managed to find the vessel's radio frequency on his walkie-talkie. His calls for help were picked up by the cargo ship's chief mate, Emmanuel Soriano, NPR reported. In turn, Soriano informed Captain Narciso Santillan, who ordered the ship to turn back and rescue Adilang.
The rescue, however, wasn't quick or easy due to high waves that prevented the Arpeggio from getting close to Adilang, the Post reported. The Arpeggio circled Adilang four times, but he could only be brought aboard after the youth jumped into the water and swam toward a rope that the Arpeggio crew was holding onto. Once onboard, Adilang was given a blanket, water and slices of bread. He was picked up near the US island territory of Guam.
Adilang arrived in Tokuyama, Japan, on September 6 after Santillan was told by Guam's coast guard to transport the teenager to the Japanese port that was the cargo ship's original destination. Adilang remained on the ship for an additional night over quarantine concerns by Japanese officials. It wasn't until September 9 that Adilang was placed on a flight back home and was able to reunite with his family.
On September 14, Indonesia's consulate in Osaka posted photos of Adilang being checked by health officials and of his reunion with relatives.
Since Adilang was rescued, officials have begun to call on the Indonesian government to provide fishermen with GPS tracking devices. Jefri Sagune, the chairman of the Indonesian Small Fishermen Association, told local media outlet Tribun Sulut that new measures should be undertaken "so that when [fishermen] are lost, it will be easier to track them down."