x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Crewmen still captive on MV Albedo issue letter pleading for their lives

'Please save us ... we will die,' warns letter written by 15 crewmen held captive by Somali pirates.

DUBAI // When seven Pakistani sailors returned home on Thursday night, they brought with them a letter written by the 15 colleagues who were left behind on the captured ship.

"Help us, please save us," reads the letter, which is signed by the crew of "the ill-fated MV Albedo".

"If you are not able to do so, we will die automatically ... we are malnourished and are facing many other difficulties.

"We are drinking contaminated water and don't have anything proper to wear.

"It is very hot in the day and cold in the night. It is so cold we cannot sleep at night. Many of us are getting sick."

The 15 remaining captives are seven Bangladeshis, six Sri Lankans, an Indian and an Iranian. One Indian sailor was shot dead by the pirates last year to heap pressure on the Malaysian-based Iranian owner and relatives to raise the US$2.85 million (Dh10.5m) ransom demanded.

The sailors' letter for help was addressed to Ahmed Chinoy, the lead negotiator who, along with relatives, spearheaded the collection of the $1.1m (Dh4m) that finally freed seven Pakistani hostages on Thursday.

"They addressed the letter to me urging me to help them get out," said Mr Chinoy, the chairman of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee in Karachi.

He has travelled to Dubai this year for negotiations with groups who put him in touch with tribal leaders, who helped with negotiations.

The letter acknowledges the efforts to release them, but points out that only the Pakistanis have been freed so far.

"Sir, you already know our condition under the pirates and the Pakistani crew can tell you what we have seen," the letter says.

"You have been trying to save us but you have only managed to save seven Pakistanis.

"We are still hopeful that you will continue in your mission to release us. We are in great distress and we are maltreated all the time.

"We have great hope from you. Please don't leave us in this difficult time.

"Our families are also trying to collect money to save us. You also please guide them about how to do this."

More than 200 sailors are currently being held hostage by Somalian pirates, and 62 have lost their lives to pirates since 2007.

Mr Chinoy has pledged to assist all relatives from other nations and governments who wish to come forward.

 

rtalwar@thenational.ae