Two crew members of Stolt Valor return home in Patna

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Patna, Nov 26 (UNI) It was a journey from despair to jubilation for the family of Santosh Singh and Anil Kumar, two crew-members of M T Stolt Valor from the city, when the news came in that the hijacked cargo vessel and crew had been freed from the clutches of Somalian pirates.

The hijacked ocean liner, returned home here yesterday amid unplugged joy and relief of everybody including their family, friends and relatives after over two months of ordeal.

The two marine engineers, who hailed from the city's Kankarbagh colony and Danapur respectively, were held captive by heavily armed 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 crew members 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 hundrends of surging relatives friends and well-wishers who had been waiting there since morning to heartily welcome the duo with flower bouquets and sweets broke the security cordons to touch the freed hostages ignoring all cautions.

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

The entire situation on the airport turned very emotional as tears started rolling down from most of those present there, while some other were seen jumping with joy and started embracing one another signyfying the end of their two month long ordeal of tension and apprehension for the worst.

Mrs Seema Singh and Mr Kameswar Singh, the wife and father 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 life 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, sound adamant of not to letting her son to go for any further voyage.

Elaborating their harrowing experience of the past couple of months before the media, both Santosh Singh and Anil Kumar said the Somali pirates, numbering about 60 and came in three speed boats, were armed to the teeth with heavy machine-guns 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 nightmeriash.

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


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