Five crew members of hijacked 'Stolt Valor' return home

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Mumbai, Nov 24 (UNI) The first batch of the five crew members of MV Stolt Valor, the Japanese cargo vessel that was hijacked by Somali pirates off the Gulf of Eden on September 15, arrived here early today.

There were 18 Indians among 22 crew on board the ship, who spent over two months in capitivity of the pirates.

Among the five are Santosh Patil, Naveed Burandkar, Alistair Fernandes, Ishidore Fernandes and Omprakash Shukla. They returned to Mumbai after undergoing physical and psychological treatment at Muscat in Oman.

Recounting his days in captivity, Alistair Fernandez said ''I would not even wish this for my enemies. We were kept at gunpoint 24 hours and asked to stay on the bridge. We were allowed to go inside the ship only for showers and that too two at a time. It was very strict and without their (pirates) permission, we could not do anything.'' Naveed Burandkar said most of the crew would return to work again. ''These things happen everywhere. Even on land there are terror attacks. We got the support of the Indian Navy this time and we were rescued. We are positive.'' The rest of the Indian crew members, including the ship's captain P K Goyal, are expected to arrive home tomorrow. The ship is also being brought back to India by a replacement crew.

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