Two Bihari crewmembers of Stolt Valor return home in Patna

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Patna, Nov 25 (UNI)Two crew-members of Stolt Valor,the hijacked ocean liner, returned to their homes here today after over two months of ordeal, amid unbound joy and relief to everybody including their families, friends and relatives.

The two marine engineers- Santosh Singh and Anil Kumar, who hailed from the city's Kankarbagh colony and Danapur respectively, were held captive by heavily armed Somali pirates along with 20 other crew-members of the vessel since it was hijacked off the Yemen coast on September 15 on a voyage to Hongkong.

The huge oil tanker and its crewmembers were released by the pirates after the Japanese owner reportedly paid 2.5 million dollars (Rs 12 crore)as ransom.

As soon as the two came out from the security enclosure of the Patna airport,all hell broke loose as hundreds of surging relatives,friends and well wishers who had been waiting there since morning to heartily welcome the duo with bouquets and sweets, broke the security cordons to touch the freed hostages igoring all cautions.

Among those present at the airport to welcome the duo, was Bihar Public Health and Engineering Department(PHED) Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey who presented bouquets on behalf of the state government.

The entire situation in the airport turned very emotional as tears started rolling down from most of those present there,while some others were seen jumping with joy and started embracing one another.

Mrs Seema Singh and Mr Kameswar Singh, the wife and father respectively of 29-year old Santosh,one of the four senior engineers of Stolt Valor, described the news of his release as the 'most precious gift of God' in their lives which could not be described in words.

'During the entire period we had full faith in God and were confident that Santosh would soon join us here'', said his father.

Similarly, Sitara Devi, the 69 year-old mother of junior engineer Anil Kumar thanking the almighty for bringing back her son from the 'jaws of death', however, was sure that she would not sent her son to any of the voyages.

Elaborating their harrowing experience before the media, both Santosh Singh and Anil Kumar said the Somali pirates, numbering about 60 came in three speed boats and were armed to the teeth with heavy machineguns and rocket launchers.

''Though they did not cause any harm to us, they also did not allow us to move freely on the deck where we were forced to sit almost all day long everyday'', they said and described their experience as nightmarish.

However, both of them made it clear that after a few months of rest and spending quality time with the family, 'would return to similar long voyage across the globe including the Gulf of Aden', where the Stolt Valor was hijacked.


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