Local newspapers gave prominent coverage Monday to the rescue of a man who was found unconscious on eastern Taiwan's rocky coastline after drifting on the ocean for 60 hours. Some media reports said Tseng Lien-fa's "magical" journey on the ocean and miraculous rescue was reminiscent of the 2000 Hollywood adventure thriller "Cast Away." Tseng was discharged from Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Hualien on Monday after a thorough physical checkup showed that he was in good health. The following are excerpts from local media coverage of Tseng's incredible lucky escape: China
Times: "I thought about everything but death while adrift at sea," Tseng Lien-fa said, crediting his strong desire to live for his miraculous survival. The 42-year-old metalworker began to moonlight as an eel fry catcher about a month ago to earn extra money because his fiancee was due to give birth to their first child next month. He went to the Hualien River estuary in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County at around 1 a.m. on Jan. 3 to catch eel fries. He had sold NT$900 (US$29.93) worth of eel fries by 4:10 a.m. that day and was ready to stop work. As Tseng was heading ashore, he was caught by two huge waves. "The first wave hit my chest and I managed to withstand it, but the second one went over my head and knocked me off my feet," he recalled. With water flooding into his wetsuit, Tseng said he was immediately pulled under water. "I struggled and my wetsuit eventually came off. I managed to float, but I couldn't see anything. I held out my hands and unexpectedly caught a piece of driftwood. I then stayed afloat on the driftwood," Tseng said. During the odyssey, Tseng said he looked for ships that might be able to spot him, but much to his disappointment there were no ships sailing in the area. The waves became rougher in windy weather early Saturday, washing away his life-supporting driftwood. "I thought the world had come to end," he said.
Unexpectedly, waves swept him ashore. "I abruptly found my feet could touch sand." Tseng lost consciousness after crawling ashore. He heard somebody calling him through the mist of sleep, and when he woke up, he saw Coast Guard officers at his side. His first words were, "I want to see my fiancee." Coast Guard officials said they saw a man stranded on a rock near the seashore at Changyuan Beach in Changpin, Taitung County. "We soon came to discover that he was the man reported swept away by waves in Hualien more than two days ago," said a coast guard officer. Tseng was immediately given water, covered in a Coast Guard uniform and rushed to Tzu Chi hospital for a checkup. (Jan. 6, 2014). United Daily News: Yang Shih-feng, deputy head of the No. 82 squadron under the Coast Guard Administration's Eastern Coastal Patrol Office, said it was really a miracle that Tseng could remain conscious after being adrift at sea for 60 hours over a 75-kilometer distance.
"There has never been a case like it," Yang said.
It was the fourth case involving eel fry catchers being washed away by rogue waves over the past four weeks. The three other victims remain unaccounted for, Yang said. (Jan. 6, 2014). (By Sofia Wu)