Mumbai, Jan 10 (ANI): Seventeen Indian sailors freed from Somalian pirates after they were paid a multimillion dollar ransom, recalled tales of horror and torture after their arrival in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Somali pirates freed an Italian oil tanker Savina Caylyn, which they had hijacked in Yemen last February, with five Italians and 17 Indians on board.
The released sailors, overcame with emotions after meeting their family members and recounted their nightmare of the past ten months.
"I feel really great coming back to India, coming back to my family and its been really a horrible experience for all of us, for all the crew also and as well as the parents and the relatives, everybody," said Rahul Puranik, one of the released sailors.
Gulaam Rabbani, another seaman said the medium-sized tanker was seized by an armed gang, firing bullets and rocket propelled grenades, some 500 miles off the coast of India and 800 miles off Somalia, as the vessel transited from Sudan to Malaysia. It was loaded at the time.
"Before we could take any action, a speedboat came towards our ship in just 15 minutes and started firing. Their aim of firing was to avoid anybody from seeing that they are boarding the ship. They fired with AK-47 and rocket launchers," said Rabbani.
The freed hostages told the mediapersons that getting food and water was a struggle during captivity.
"We ate whatever they gave us. They used to give us rice and we were given one and a half litres of water once in a day and we had to do everything in that," said Jayanti Lal, a released sailor.
Somali pirates released the Italian-owned oil tanker and its 22 crew after they received a multi-million dollar ransom. The tanker, owned by Naples shipping company, was on its way from Sudan to Malaysia and was carrying a load of crude oil.
"I would say Indian government has done their job as what they were supposed to do but as far as operational detail of the whole situation is concerned, it is better we don't speak about it at the moment because not to forget we still have more than 70 Indians in captivity in Somalia and about 300 sailors overall," said Captain Vinod Alvi, another released sailor.
Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa, disrupting shipping lanes between Europe and Asia, putting seamen, vessels and cargoes at risk, and costing shippers huge sums to protect themselves.
Seaborne gangs are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean owing to the vast distances involved. (ANI)