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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 09:46 GMT
Tsunami man survives week at sea
Rizal Shahputra stands on the tree branches and waves to a cargo ship after being spotted by the crew of a container vessel,  Monday, Jan. 3, 2005.
Rizal waved to a passing cargo ship
An Indonesian man has been found floating on tree branches in the Indian Ocean, eight days after a devastating tsunami struck the region.

Rizal Shahputra, 23, said he was initially swept out to sea with other survivors and family members, but that one by one they drowned.

He was rescued on Monday by a passing container vessel.

He was taken to Malaysia where officials said he was in good condition - he survived eating floating coconuts.

Rizal said he was cleaning a mosque in Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra on 26 December when the tsunami struck. Children ran in to warn him, but he was swept out to sea, along with several other people.

"At first, there were some friends with me," Rizal told reporters. "After a few days, they were gone... I saw bodies left and right."

He drank rainwater, and ate coconuts, which he reportedly cracked open with a doorknob.

Rizal said at least one ship sailed by without noticing him before the MV Durban Bridge spotted him, 160km (100 miles) from Banda Aceh.

Huang Wen Feng, a crew member of the ship, said he was "very, very surprised" to see Rizal standing on his wood debris on Monday.

"He was shouting at us. I couldn't believe it," he said.

The Japanese-owned ship, which was returning to Malaysia from South Africa, took Rizal to the Malaysian port of Port Klang, where he arrived on Wednesday.

He was taken to hospital, weak and in shock, and having sustained some cuts to his legs.

His survival follows that of a woman, also from Aceh, who was found in the sea on Friday. She had fish bites to her legs, and had survived on fruit from the palm tree she was clinging to.

See Rizal's makeshift raft and his dramatic rescue


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