Stolt Valor captain, crew members return home

November 25th, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) All the Indian crew members of the MT Stolt Valor, hijacked by Somali pirates two months ago, returned to Delhi early Tuesday with Captain Prabhat Kumar Goyal expressing relief that the “nightmare” was finally over.The crew members reached the international airport here from Muscat at around 4 a.m. Five of the 18 Indians had reached Mumbai Monday.

“The experience was very bad. They tortured us mentally. But, at the end, we are happy to be back safe. I wish to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone,” an emotional and tired Goyal told reporters here.

“It was not only an ordeal but also a nightmare for all of us on board the Stolt Valor,” he said.

It was an emotional reunion as family members of the crew members hugged each other with tears rolling down their eyes.

“I am really happy that all the members have returned home safely. I thank god for it. But I will never be able to forget these two months,” an ecstatic Seema Goyal, wife of Capt Prabhat Goyal, said.

Seema had been shell-shocked when her husband informed her over the satellite phone that his ship had been hijacked. She had left no stone unturned to contact the prime minister, the defence minister, external affairs minister as well as the shipping company that employed her husband.

Ayushi Goyal, their 11-year-old daughter, ran to greet her father the moment crew reached the airport lounge.

All of them expressed gratitude to the Indian government and the Indian Navy.

MT Stolt Valor, with 22 crewmembers including 18 Indians, was hijacked by a group of Somali pirates off the Yemen coast Sep 15 while it was bound for Mumbai from the Suez Canal.

The pirates took the Japanese-owned vessel to the Somali coast and demanded a ransom of $6 million. They released the ship Nov 16 after reportedly collecting $2.5 million from the ship’s owners. The cargo vessel was managed by Fleet Marine Management Service Ltd, Mumbai.

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