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British hostage describes Somali capture

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 29 October 2009

The husband of the British couple captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia speak of the moment "men with guns" boarded their yacht and took them hostage.

The Lynn Rival yacht

ITV News reporter Angus Walker made contact with Mr Chandler just before 11am today, six days after he and his wife were taken captive in the Indian ocean. Here is a transcript of the telephone call.

Walker: I have a message from Stephen (Collett - Mrs Chandler's brother). Stephen says everyone here is fine we are all thinking of you and just hope you are both well - can't wait to speak to you and see you.

Mr Chandler: Well, that's awfully nice (laughs).

Walker: Paul can you describe how you are being held?

Mr Chandler: We are at the moment in the captain's cabin of the container ship Kota Wajah - container ship.

Walker: What kind of ship?

Mr Chandler: A container ship.

Walker: Have you been rescued or have you been kidnapped?

Mr Chandler: We are hostage together with this ship.

Walker: Can you describe how you were taken hostage?

Mr Chandler: Yes, we were... miles from the... to the Seychelles.

Walker: And what happened?

Mr Chandler: Came alongside - I was off watch - I was asleep and men with guns came aboard - it was on Friday last week at 0230 local time.

Walker: What happened then?

Mr Chandler: Then we were forced to sail er... sail on motor towards Somalia...

Walker: How far are you off the Somali coast at the moment do you think?

Mr Chandler: One mile - we are at anchor.

Walker: Do you know what the nearest town is?

Mr Chandler: Where is the nearest town? Hang on a minute... now what the nearest town is... hang on a minute. Hello did you get that?

Walker: Didn't get name of town. Could you repeat?

Mr Chandler: Ubdu - due east from Mogadishu - about 200 miles.

Walker: Have your hostage takers demanded any ransom?

Mr Chandler: Not officially - they kept asking for money and took everything of value on the boat.

Walker: Do you know what nationality of ship you are being held on?

Mr Chandler: Yes - a container ship - name is Kota Wajah - a Singapore ship.

Walker: How are you being treated?

Contact was then lost

Channel 4 News's international editor, Lindsey Hilsum, writes: "The MoD have confirmed that a yacht floating in the Indian Ocean is the Lynn Rival, hijacked last Friday by Somali priates. So where are the sailors, the retired British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler?

"We've been speaking to people close to the pirates in the Somali coastal town of Haradhere. They say three pirates have arrived there with the Chandlers who've been transferred to another hijacked vessel being held off-shore.

"The Chandlers join about 170 other hostages, mainly Philippino, Chinese and other crewmen who were on the eight vessels which have been seized in recent weeks. Our source says "They've been taken food and qat". Qat is the bitter narcotic leaf chewed by nearly all Somali men - not sure that will bring any comfort to the Chandlers.

"Now they're being held with so many others, in the pirates' stronghold, it becomes very difficult for the British to mount a rescue mission. A report from AFP says 60 gunmen have turned up to support the pirates. So the Chandlers may have a long wait, as go-betweens try to negotiate their release."

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