Jose Alvarenga found
A Salvadorean castaway who identified himself as Jose Ivan and later told that his full name is Jose Salvador Alvarenga walks with the help of a Majuro Hospital nurse in Majuro after a 22-hour boat ride from isolated Ebon Atoll on February 3, 2014. HILARY HOSIA/AFP/Getty

A castaway fisherman from El Salvador who went missing in the Pacific Ocean for 14 months has said that he spoke to the dead body of his friend after he had succumbed to a fatal illness. Real life castaway Jose Alvarenga, 36, was found in the remote Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands 8,000 miles from where he was reported missing near the Costa Azul, off the coast of Mexico, in January 2014.

He had been missing since November 2012 when he joined Ezequiel Cordoba, 22, to catch fish and sharks in a small 25ft boat with no shelter. The unlucky pair were presumed dead after encountering a storm but 438 days later, Alvarenga washed up on the Marshall Islands.

In the first 15 minutes of the storm the pair battled to keep afloat taking turns throwing out water in the hull of the boat. For food the pair came up with a number of ways to catch fish, birds and even turtles without equipment to survive.

But Cordoba died just four months into their ordeal after becoming ill from eating a raw seabird caught in the middle of the Pacific and struggled to hold down food. At one point he lay down to sleep and never woke up.

In a number of interviews with the Guardian, Alvarenga revealed he began talking to his dead companion asking questions like: "How do you feel? How was your sleep?" He would answer his own questions with: "I slept good, and you? Have you had breakfast?"

The pair were not friends at the beginning of the trip with Cordoba being paid $50 to take part in the trip. For six days after his death he kept the corpse on the boat and talked to him because of loneliness.

"I was so hungry that I was eating my own fingernails, swallowing all the little pieces," Alvarenga added. Eventually Alvarenga decided to take Cordoba's clothes off and pushed him into the water.

"Why had he died and not me? I had invited him to fish. I blamed myself for his death," he said. Alvarenga was found by native Marshall islanders stumbling naked through undergrowth on Tile Islet, a small island that is part of the Ebon Atoll.