Sufferings were unimaginable: Stolt Valor officer

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Kochi, Nov 24 (UNI) The sufferings undergone by the sailors of the hijacked Stolt Valor were unimaginable and authorities concerned should ensure safe waters to the sailors, says Ullas Krishna, Second Officer of the hijacked ship, on his arrival at the Kochi International airport here this evening.

''The government and other agencies should take necessary precautions to prevent recurring of such incidents,'' he said.

It was an emotional reunion for Ullas with his family after two-month long ordeal in the hijacked ship. His mother Thankam was the first one to hug him as he came out from the airport. His father Unnikrishnan, brother Umesh and relatives Thankam, Ayswarya, Jayaprakash, Roshini and friends were among those who received him.

Manager Sajan of the Fleet Management Ltd, the company which employed Ullas, was also present on his arrival.

Narrating the horrifying experiences in the hijacked vessel, Ullas told mediapersons that about nine pirates, who came in a six meter long boat, boarded into Stolt with heavy weapons. ''I was on a navigation watch at that time,'' he said adding that since the Somalian waters were notorious for piracy attacks, four personnel were put on watch. The pirates, at gun point, ordered the crew to take the ship to the Port of Eyl, where about 50 more pirates joined the ship.

The 22 member crew, including 18 Indians, were taken hostage.

They were locked in a room. Only two crew members were allowed to go to toilet at a time. They were mentally and physically tortured by the pirates, who had no specific leader with them, he said.

The crew survived with strict rationing as their food and water were running short. The officers of the ship were taken to the deck and threatened by firing in the air.

The ordeal got over when the ship was released on November 16.

But sailing through the Somalian waters was still dangerous as pirate attacks were common in that area, he said.

Despite this ordeal, Ullas said he would sail again.

UNI XR CJD/APA RSA SK UCS2239

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