Hostage tells of pirate ordeal

A British man being held by Somali pirates has told how he and his wife were taken hostage after armed men stormed their yacht in the dead of night.

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Paul and Rachel Chandler were sailing across the Indian Ocean from the Seychelles to Tanzania when they were captured and forced to sail towards Somalia.

“I was off watch. I was asleep and men with guns came aboard,” Mr Chandler told the UK’s ITV News, speaking by phone from off the Somali coast where he is being held.

“They (the pirates) kept asking for money and took everything of value on the boat,” he said. “They haven’t asked formally for money yet, but that’s what they want, we know.”

ITV reported that the Chandlers were being held by armed gunmen on board the Kota Wajar container ship 1.6km off the Somali coast.

Chandler’s brother-in-law Stephen Collett confirmed it was his voice heard during the call.

Collett was among the couple’s family members who met visiting Somalian Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke on Wednesday.

Ransom demand expected

“We do expect a ransom demand,” Mr Collett told the BBC. “The problem is they are not rich people.

“Most of their money is tied up with the yacht and other communications equipment which is on board the yacht.”

The Chandlers’ 11.6-metre yacht, the Lynn Rival, was found empty by Britain’s Royal Navy, which said it had no reason to believe the couple had been harmed.

UK authorities are continuing to call for the Chandlers to be released unhurt.

“Hostage taking is never justified,” said a Foreign Office spokeswoman.

“Paul and Rachel are blameless tourists and they should be released immediately and unconditionally.

“The families are deeply concerned for the safety of their loved ones. Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff are in close contact with them and offering support.”

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