Indian hostage contacts family over phone

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Kozhikode, Oct 6: All the crew members, including 18 Indians, on the Japanese vessel 'M V Stolt Valor,' hijacked by pirates off Somalia, were confined in a cramped room in a remote locality, one of the hostages has informed his family.

''All of us are confined in a very small and dingy room with inadequate supply of food and medicine,'' Second Officer Ullas Krishnan (22) informed his home at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district over phone at 1745 hrs yesterday.

The ship was hijacked from the Gulf of Aden on September 15.

His mother Thankam Unnikrishanan told the sources that the hostages were being given only a small quantity of food and medicines.

However, her son was not aware of the name of the place, she said.

Expressing serious concern over the slow pace of negotiations to secure their release, she said the pirates, who initially demanded a ransom of USD six million had slashed it to USD one million.

However, she said, according to her information, the owners of the ship, Hong Kong-based Fleet Ship Management had offered USD 0.7 million for their release.

The vessel, carrying phosphoric acid and lubricant oil for end-users, including Kandla-based ''Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited'', was on its way to Mumbai from Houston.

Besides Indians, a Russian, a Bangladeshi and two Filipinos were the other crew members.

UNI

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