Body and ID cards found on boat washed up in Marshalls

5:01 pm on 7 September 2017

A boat has been found washed up on a Marshall Islands atoll with a decomposed body on board as well as ID cards belonging to three Latin American men.

In this July 2017 photo, fishermen on Likiep Atoll gear up for a day of fishing around this isolated atoll in the northern area of the Marshall Islands.

In this July 2017 photo, fishermen on Likiep Atoll gear up for a day of fishing around this isolated atoll in the northern area of the Marshall Islands. Photo: Chris deBrum

Fishermen on Likiep Atoll found the 36-foot blue fibreglass boat with an outboard engine on Friday.

The ID cards showed the names of a Mexican man and two Colombians.

The discovery has revived memories of the arrival three years ago of El Salvadoran, Jose Alvarenga, who survived a 14-month drift from Mexico, floating into Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands on a similar size fiberglass boat.

"The body was really decomposed, so we couldn't identify it with the ID cards we found on the boat," said the Likiep mayor Veronika Wase about the latest case.

The IDs showed the Mexican was Javier de Jesus Cervantes Ramirez, while the two Colombians were Luis Carlos Segura and Javier Pineda Centeno.

The passport for Mr Ramirez said his date of birth was 9 December 1986.

A separate identification card for one of the Colombians identified Segura as a fisherman for "ornamental fish."

A Facebook page established by Mr Ramirez's mother after he was reported missing states that he is from Puerto Escondido, which is located in Oaxaca state of Mexico.

He had not been seen since December 20, 2016 when, according to the announcement, he had tried to cross the border into the United States.

Two Likiep fishermen were out for a day of fishing when they spotted the boat that had washed onto the atoll.

After the discovery, Likiep residents radioed Majuro, the capital, alerting the Likiep mayor and others to the development.

She contacted government authorities, which triggered a special flight to Likiep on Sunday, with government, law enforcement and health officials on board.

The body was left on the northern atoll, and it was cremated earlier this week to avoid any health problems for local residents, said local authorities on Wednesday.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff said they were communicating with the Mexican Embassy in the Philippines regarding the development.

Jose Salvador Albarengo is brought ashore.

Three years ago El Salvadoran, Jose Alvarenga, survived a 14-month drift from Mexico, washing up in a small boat on Ebon Atoll Photo: AFP

In February 2014, El Salvadoran Jose Alvarenga floated into Ebon Atoll - alive - in a small boat after 14 months at sea.

He and another fisherman, who died during the drift, had left from Mexico.

In 2006, three Mexicans were rescued by Marshall Islands fishing vessel Koo's 102 in Kiribati waters after drifting for over nine months, and brought to Majuro to facilitate their repatriation.

Both cases generated massive global media attention.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs