After more than a year long ordeal, British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were released today by Somali pirates. The retired couple was seized by the pirates on October 22, 2009.
Armed pirates have held Paul, 60, and Rachel, 57, for a year and three weeks, since they were seized in the dead of night as they slept aboard their yacht off the Seychelles, 800 miles east of the African coast.
They have been moved around a series of makeshift camps across Somalia’s rugged hinterland, living in rag tents, eating tinned spaghetti and goat meat, and under the constant watch of armed men – many of them teenagers.
Both have had bouts of ill health, and images of Mrs Chandler, an economist, released earlier this year showed her looking thin and weak.
She lost a tooth when she was hit with a rifle butt, and both have earlier reported being “caged like animals” and fearing that they would be “killed and abandoned here in the desert”.
Mr Aden Tiiceey, Adado’s governor, said they were both “tired but well” on Sunday, and it is expected that they will undergo medical checks as soon as they arrive in Nairobi.
Negotiations to free the couple dragged on as Somali clans and pirate leaders argued over the expected ransom, and agreed deals were ripped up at the last minute.
It is unclear why discussions were successful at this point, although it is understood that a fresh ransom was offered early last week.
The British government has a strict policy of not paying kidnappers, and it is thought that the money was raised from family and friends.
Mr and Mrs Chandler both retired early and sold their home in Tunbridge Wells to buy their 38ft yacht, the Lynn Rival, and to sail the world.
They and their family repeatedly warned the pirates that they were not wealthy, and would not be able to raise the original £4 million ransom that was demanded. It is understood that the final amount paid was a fraction of that sum.