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  • 11

    Man Speaks of Somalian Pirate Hostage Drama
    Race; Posted on: 2008-04-04 00:19:27 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    "They wanted money and said the tug had been hijacked for ransom."

    By Richard Savill

    The captain of a tug has told how he feared for his life during a six-week hostage ordeal at the hands of pirates off the coast of Somalia.

    Colin Darch, 70, who is recovering at home in Appledore, Devon, was freed only after the Danish owners of the tug, the Svitzer Korsakov, were reported to have paid a 350,000 ransom.

    About 20 pirates boarded the vessel on Feb 1 in the Gulf of Aden off the north coast of Somalia.

    "Someone shouted that they were aboard," said Mr Darch. "They were firing guns. We then shut down the ship.

    "We were told that if we behaved no one would get hurt, but if we did something wrong, we would be shot."

    The four Russian crew members were ordered to lie down but Mr Darch and his Irish engineer, Fred Parle, 68, were needed to sail the ship. A day and a half later, Mr Darch was made to anchor close to the village of Eyl.

    "They wanted money and said the tug had been hijacked for ransom," said Mr Darch, who maintained daily contact with the boat's owners, Svitzer, in Copenhagen. "We could see they were not religious or political and they told us they had to rob to survive."

    Mr Darch said an American warship intervened at one stage but could not attack in case it hit the crew.

    He said: "We decided to try and help by blacking out the ship and hiding in a stern compartment behind watertight doors, in the hope the American crew would get the message and attack.

    "We retreated to a ballast tank partly full of water and spent 18 hours in there, but the attack didn't happen. After 19 hours we gave ourselves up.

    "They didn't punish us but they kept a much closer eye on us."

    News Source: telegraph


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