February 2, 2009 10:47:23 pm
Twentyone-year-old Sachin Munot,a resident of Sambhajinagar in Pimpri-Chinchwad,is at peace with himself. He has every reason to feel so,particularly after those harrowing 58 days in captivity of pirates who had hijacked a ship off the coast of Somalia.
I boarded the ship on September 11 last year from Mumbai and the ship was hijacked by pirates on November 26 while we were sailing in the Gulf of Aden, said Sachin,a crew member of the ship owned by Industrial Shipping Enterprises Corporation.
Sachin said after sailing from Mumbai,the ship carrying ethanol headed to a port in Yemen. After unloading ethanol there,it loaded palm oil and then headed for the Indonesian port of Dumai. It later moved to Salala in Oman where the fire pump of the ship was tested. From there,two British Navy staff also boarded the ship for security reasons. The ship was hijacked by five pirates when it was moving to Spain.
The pirates attacked our ship around 8.45 am on November 28. They were all carrying AK-47 guns. In five minutes,they took control of the ship and pushed all 28 crew members into a small room. While the pirates were boarding the ship,the captain had sent an SOS message to a nearby ship. Soon a helicopter came for rescuing us,but the pirates held me and a few other crew members at gun point and this forced the helicopter to return, said Sachin.
Sachin said the pirates ordered the captain to take the ship to Somalia where the ship was anchored around five miles away from the east coast. They took the laptops of the crew along with other electronic goods and threw them away. We were given food only once a day. They also took the master key from the captain,using which they could open all the rooms and locks on the ship, he said.
He said the pirates allowed them to call their families once in 15 days. On December 31,the pirates allowed us to get a TV and DVD player into the room we were huddled into. Then we spent our days watching movies.
Sachin said all of them were finally released when their company officials dropped the ransom money by parachute on to the ship on January 22.
Sachins father Narendra Munot said: The companys officials were regularly in touch with us to tell us about the negotiations and assuring us that our son is safe. It had also set up a hotline on which we could contact them anytime and get to know about our son. The company also sent us letters telling us that he is safe and assuring us that he would be back safe. They also asked us what message they should send to Sachin.
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