Croatian police released a photo of a woman who they say speaks “perfect English” but is unable to tell them who she is or how she was found on a jagged rock outcrop off the island of Krk.
News site 24Sata said the woman, who appears to be in her 60s and has cuts and bruises to her face and body, was first spotted by a fisherman at 10 a.m. on Sunday, sitting on a rock in a bay near the village of Soline, in the north of the island.
Fearing that his boat would run aground if he tried to rescue him himself, the fisherman alerted the police, who dispatched an emergency rescue team in two 4 × 4s. They had to abandon their vehicles and walk more than 3 km to reach her.
Local officials told the website that the woman, who is 5ft 4in with shoulder length brown hair and wearing a pink sun hat, striped top and dark pants, had no documents or phone which could have allowed its identification.
She appears to have spent several nights outdoors in the area, which is visited by bears and wild boars, officials said, and was so weak that she was unable to drink water without assistance. She is being treated at the hospital in Rijeka on the Croatian mainland.
A local resident told the website: “It’s very strange that she is in the area. This is an extremely inaccessible part of the bay, with terribly sharp rocks, literally like razors that will cut the rubber on the soles of your shoes.
The resident said there was “no life or animals” in the area “except maybe wild boars or bears, which can swim here in search of food”. They said it was rare, however, “because there is no food, nothing”.
A normal person “certainly couldn’t swim this distance, they need exceptional strength,” said the resident.
A resident of Soline said the woman did not stay in the village because she would have been recognized, while another suggested that she might have “got lost while walking, fell, fell. injured and lost her memory by a blow to the head ”.
The website said police were going through the missing persons register and visiting nearby hotels, apartment complexes, campsites and other vacation facilities with the woman’s photo in hopes someone would recognize her .
Krk, a popular tourist destination especially with holidaymakers from southern Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary, is one of the largest islands in the Adriatic, with a permanent population of nearly 20,000 people.
Despite being connected to the mainland by a bridge, large parts of the island, far from its main towns and villages, remain isolated and sparsely populated, with areas of inhospitable terrain.
24Sata said the case resembled that of Andreas Grassl, better known as Piano Man, a Bavarian who in 2005 was found on a beach in Kent and spent five months in hospital to be treated for a psychological depression which had made him lose his memory.