ibnlive » India

Nov 25, 2008 at 08:28am IST

Sweet homecoming for Stolt Valor crew members

Mumbai: After two months in captivity, five of the 18 Indian crew members of the hijacked Japanese chemical tanker Stolt Valor reached Mumbai on Monday.

The ship and its crew were released by Somali pirates after a ransom of $ 2.5 million was reportedly paid.

"We just hoped and prayed for our release," said Naveed Borundkar, a sailor onboard the Stolt Valor.

Naveed Borundkar, Alister Fernandes and Ishidor Fernandes were the first to be reunited with their families.

They now recount the nightmare after the ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.

“We were held at gunpoint and were required to take permission for everything from the pirates," Alister said.

The families are relieved that their prayers have been finally answered.

"I am grateful to god. My son sounded scared when I had spoken to him on the phone earlier,” Naveed’s mother, Maimuna Borundkar, said.

But uncertainty still continues over the fate of Indians on board other hijacked ships.

The National Seafarers' Union of India (NUSI) says a UN peacekeeping force seems to be the need of the hour.

“In the long run, such agency will not see nationality and colour,” Abdul Ghani Serang, NUSI, said.

For families and the crew of Stolt Valor, the ordeal has finally ended but uncertainty continues about the release of other Indian crew on board hijacked ships, the MV Delight and the MV Rezzak. Negotiations are still underway in those cases.

For now, though, hope floats for their family members.