Published: 4:44 p.m. BST, 1 September 2022 | Updated: 4:58 p.m. BST, 1 September 2022
A fisherman has had a miraculous rescue after surviving 11 days adrift in a freezer he slipped into when his boat began to sink in the Atlantic.
Romualdo Macedo Rodrigues, 44, left Oiapoque, Amapa state, northern Brazil at the end of July in a wooden boat about seven meters (23 feet) long to go to Ilet la Mere.
According to Brazilian media, he was planning to spend a few days fishing but his boat started to take on water during his trip and sank.
In an attempt to survive, the 44-year-old climbed into a freezer he had on board. Mr Rodrigues spent his time adrift without food or water and estimates he lost around five kilograms over the 11 days.
He said, “What troubled me the most was the thirst. This fridge, for me, was God. A miracle.’
Footage taken on August 11 shows when he was rescued exhausted and collapsing on the floor of a Surinamese fishing boat, 450 kilometers (280 miles) from where his boat sank.
Dehydrated, disoriented and sporting ragged clothes, the man also had sunstroke and begged his rescuers for a drink – they gave him water and porridge.
Romualdo Macedo Rodrigues, 44, left Oiapoque, Amapa state, northern Brazil at the end of July in a wooden boat about seven meters (23 feet) long to go to Ilet la Mere. He had planned to go fishing but during his trip the boat sank and to survive he climbed into a fridge. He was rescued after 11 days adrift by a Surinamese fishing boat. Pictured: (left) being pulled over the disoriented boat, (right) coming out of the fridge
Dehydrated, disoriented and wearing ripped clothes, the man also got sunstroke and begged his rescuers for a drink on the boat – they gave him water and porridge. Pictured: Romualdo
Romualdo feared being attacked by sharks during his terrifying experience on the open sea. Pictured: The fridge floats in the water
Speaking about the terrifying experience to his local media, he said: “I thought I was going to be attacked by sharks because there are a lot of curious fish in the high seas.”
Describing his rescue, he said: ‘I heard a noise and there was a boat on top of the freezer.
Except they thought no one was there. Then they slowly got closer, my vision was fading, then I said, “My God, the boat”. I raised my arms and asked for help.
Police officer Luis Carlos Porto said: “He was very thin, weak, but in a very good mood. The wounds he had on his body, which were related to the sun, were already much better.
“He says he had vision problems due to the excessive heat, salt and light, but he was very calm and healthy.”
Despite the rescue, a police officer said Romualdo was very calm and healthy. Pictured: The fridge that saved his life
But Romualdo’s ordeal was not over. After the boat returned to shore, he received first aid, then was arrested in Suriname for being undocumented.
It is reported that he then spent 16 days in a prison in Paramaribo.
His nightmare finally ended when he was sent back to his home country on a flight that landed in Belem, Para state, also in northern Brazil.
Overjoyed, Romualdo described it as ‘the most important day’ of his life and said, ‘I was born again’.
But Romualdo’s ordeal was not over. After the boat returned to shore, he received first aid, then was arrested in Suriname for being undocumented. He reportedly spent 16 days in prison before finally being allowed to return to Belém. In the photo on the left: Sitting on the boat after its rescue and on the right: the fridge adrift in the Atlantic Ocean