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Pirate kidnap couple: how events unfolded

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 26 May 2010

When a British couple began blogging from their yacht, the Lynn Rival, they did not know their dream trip across the Indian Ocean would turn into a hostage crisis. Here is a timeline of the key moments in the search for Paul and Rachel Chandler:

Paul and Rachel Chandler (Source: couple's blog)

22 Oct 2009: Paul and Rachel Chandler set off from the Seychelles in their 38ft yacht Lynn Rival towards Tanzania. They enter their last blog post a few hours later. The message reads: "Please ring Sarah", Mrs Chandler's sister. The alarm is raised when an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is activated from their yacht at 11pm. The Seychelles authorities begin a search and rescue operation.

Oct 27 2009: Combined Task Force 151, an international naval response unit, Nato and EU counter piracy teams join the search. A pirate named Hassan tells a news agency he has the couple captive. The European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) says it has located a yacht seen towing a skiff 200 miles to the east of Somali port Haradheere. Charlotte Dolwin, cousin of Paul and Rachel Chandler, tells Channel 4 News she is "very worried".

28 Oct 2009: The Chandlers' relatives meet the Somali Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke in London.

29 Oct 2009: The EU NAVFOR confirms the yacht it is monitoring is the Lynn Rival. The Ministry of Defence says the vessel is empty and the couple's whereabouts unknown. Somali sources say the Chandlers are captive somewhere near the pirate stronghold of Harardhere. Paul Chandler makes contact with ITV News and describes the couple's capture. He said: "I was asleep and men with guns came aboard."

30 Oct 2009: The pirates say they are moving the couple back to sea. In another phone call to ITV News, the couple say they are "safe" and "bearing up". The  pirates demand a ransom. Rachel's brother Stephen Collett makes a direct plea to the pirates, saying: "If you release them it would show your compassionate nature and it would be positive to everyone. Thank you."

2 Nov 2009: It is claimed rival pirates and militia groups have fought for control over the Chandlers.

14 Nov 2009: It emerges the crew of Royal Navy vessel Wave Knight watched the couple being kidnapped but could not act without endangering the lives of the Chandlers.

19 Nov 2009: Channel 4 News obtains a video in which Paul and Rachel Chandler make a direct plea for UK authorities to take action to secure their release. They say they fear their captors are "losing patience" and may kill them.

21 Jan 2010: Paul Chandler criticises the Royal Navy and says he may have just days to live in an interview with ITV News.

26 May 2010: In an interview with independent Somali journalist Jamal Osman, the Chandlers issue a plea to new Prime Minister David Cameron for help. They say they have been separated by their captors for half the time they have been hostages, and their time in solitary confinement has been "mental torture".

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