Shanghai, China — A woman who fell off a cruise ship defied all odds of certain death by staying afloat in the ocean for 38 hours. The 31-year-old Chinese national, identified only by her surname “Fan”, survived with only jellyfish stings and mild hypothermia when fishermen unexpectedly came to her rescue.
Chinese media say the woman was on a 5-day Royal Caribbean cruise from Shanghai to Japan with a midway stop in South Korea. Initial reports say the woman leaned too far from the ship deck railing, lost her grip, and fell overboard.
Fan was traveling with her parents who didn’t realize she was missing until hours after her fall. They soon became distraught after learning their daughter had fallen overboard. Accepting that their daughter had died, they refused to believe she was still alive until they heard her trembling voice on the phone nearly 2 days later.
Contender for 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Her story went viral on Chinese social media. People are finding it hard to believe a woman could escape certain death after drifting in the open sea for 38 hours.
On the micro-blogging site Sino Weibo, one user wrote,
“For 38 hours, without anything to eat and drink at sea. That’s such a miracle.”
While another user remarked,
“This can’t be real, She should join the Olympics.”
Interviewed by police, Fan said when she fell overboard, she began desperately calling out for help but her cries went unheard. She then somehow managed to stay afloat and drifted with the ocean’s current until she dozed off. She later awoke to see an approaching fishing boat, and frantically called out for help until being rescued.
Sources say that Fan’s physical prowess and athletic endurance definitely helped her stay afloat. Fan is currently a competitive swimmer, and has been swimming since age five. Some media sources merely attributed her tenacity to “strong will power” but couldn’t explain how she could survive at low temperatures.
Earlier this year, 33-year-old Samantha Broberg fell overboard from Carnival Cruise’s Liberty ship en route from Galveston, Texas to Cozumel, Mexico. But unlike Fan’s story, Broberg is believed to have perished and her body has never been recovered.