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'Very worried' for British couple

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 27 October 2009

Charlotte Dolwin, cousin of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple feared kidnapped by Somali pirates tells Channel 4 News she was 'very worried' but that the couple "wouldn't do anything that they thought was risky'.

Paul and Rachel Chandler

Rescue teams have so far found no trace of Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were heading for Tanzania from the Seychelles in their yacht, the Lynn Rival, when a distress signal was received.

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency said an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was activated at 11pm on October 23.

A spokesman said: "The Seychelles authorities are carrying out a search and rescue operation but have found nothing so far."

Visit the couple's blog pages and voyage map

It is understood that there had been pirate activity in the area earlier in the day.

Charlotte Dolwin, the cousin of Paul and Rachel Chandler, told Channel 4 News about her surprise in hearing about the couple's hijack.

"They're just very nice people, having a nice time, not harming anything.

"They're vey intelligent people and I think they'll be hopefully able to deal with the situation they are in as best they can.

"I think they were just carrying on their trip as usual. They know the sea well, they wouldn't do anything that they thought was risky.

"They would have known about this situation anyway, they wouldn't have travelled down there not knowing and I think they should know what they should do and not do.

"I'm very surprised and very worried for them and I hope they return safely."

The coastguard spokesman said: "They had left the Seychelles on October 22 and were going on a 150 nautical-mile passage south-west to the Amirante Islands, en route to Tanzania.

"It would appear from the activation of the EPIRB that something has happened.

"We were aware that the EPIRB had gone off, talked to the Seychelles, asked if they were aware of it, they were, and have been searching, by air and sea."

A spokesman for the coastguard in the Seychelles said: "They had been headed for Tanzania but we haven't heard from them. We don't have any information regarding them.

"We did have a distress signal from them on October 23.

"There have been reports that they were hijacked by pirates but no one can prove that. We don't know what has happened and cannot speculate.

"Our ship is in the area and we are still keeping a look-out. We don't know whether they were continuing with their route.

"They don't have a satellite phone so we cannot get hold of them."

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