Stolt Valor member Deepak Tandel undeterred by captivity

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Surat, Nov 26 (UNI) Deepak Tandel, one of the 18 crew members of Merchant Vessel 'Stolt Valor', said he was undeterred by the ''62-day hell'' in captivity of Somalian pirates.

During an informal chat with mediapersons yesterday, Mr Tandel, a resident of village Kosamba of Valsad district, said being at home was like being in heaven, as the uncertainty under the guns of hijackers had ended. ''I thank God for saving my life and all crew members of the vessel. We will never forget those nightmarish days we had to spend in captivity,'' the 28-year-old sailor said.

However, Mr Tandel, who belongs to ''Kharva'' (seafarer) community said he would go back for work into the sea, as there was no other option. This was his third international cruise job.

Narrating the moments of horror, Mr Tandel, who was a diesel mechanic in M V Stolt Valor, said on September 15 at around 1300 hrs, when the vessel, on it way to Mumbai form USA, was passing from Gulf of Eden, around a dozen armed men stormed into the ship.

They took control of the ship and warned all crew members to fall in line or face dire consequences. The hijackers then informed their boss about the success of their mission.

''We were in shock for the first three days of the captivity.

There were several rounds of negotiations and every time negotiations broke, a sense of uncertainty gripped our minds. The food given was not edible and hijackers often used to fire bullets in air to terrify us. All crew members felt safe only when the ship crossed Somalian waters. There are still six captive ships in Port of Eyl, waiting for release,'' he added.

UNI XR/HT RN LPB1827

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