MUMBAI: After a nine-hour fli ght from Mombasa, the seven Indian sailors who were held captive by Somali pirates for four years and set free on October 30 landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 2am on Monday.
Two of the sailors‚ÄîBahadur Singh and Manjeet Singh‚Äîare from the city while two others‚ÄîGeorge Joseph and Unnikrishnan Bhaskaran‚Äî are from Kerala. The remaining three, Bhim Sen Singh, Daniston Littan and Sohan Singh, are from Punjab, Tamil Nadu and UP respectively. The sailors, who are suffering from trauma and several other health issues, have checked into a suburban hotel.
The crew on Monday was sent for medical examinations and counselling sessions before reunions with families at the hotel. The reunion was organized by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), which played a key role in getting the crew back. “The sailors were extremely weak when we got their custody on October 30. They were traumatized, had lost weight and were suffering from skin infections. They lived in the jungle under challenging weather conditions (extreme heat during daytime and very cold at night),” MPHRP regional director (south Asia) Chirag Bahri.
“The sailors said that when the pirated would run out of engine oil or other amenities, they would get angry and fire from near their ears. They were provided food occasionally, just enough to live. The water which they were given to drink was harvested rainwater, usually contaminated by wild creatures causing infections,” said Bahri.
It is too early to say if they would resume work in the merchant navy, he said. “We, along with director general of shipping, the Seafarers Union and several other agencies, have taken care of their families too. The crew will undergo some more tests and is under government care,” said a source.