BREAKING NEWS: Paul and Rachel Chandler released by Somali pirates after 388 days
PAUL AND RACHEL CHANDLER, THE RETIRED KENT COUPLE KIDNAPPED FROM THEIR YACHT BY SOMALI PIRATES MORE THAN A YEAR AGO, HAVE BEEN RELEASED, UNHARMED.
Lastest update by Sky News 12:48PM GMT 14 Nov 2010
After being checked by a doctor the Chandlers were flown briefly to the Somali capital Mogadishu to meet the president of the transitional government. They are now on their way to Nairobi, Kenya, where they will be taken to the British High Commission for a rest and further checks before they travel home.
Sky's Africa correspondent Emma Hurd said a ransom of up to $1m (£600,000) was paid to the pirates to secure the release. It is understood private individuals, including family and friends, locals and exiled Somalis, came up with the money.
The Chandlers' family said: "We are delighted," but have not yet released a formal statement.
As reported by The Telegraph.co.uk
By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi 7:58AM GMT 14 Nov 2010
It is understood that a ransom was paid. The Foreign Office could not confirm that, and officials said that they were “investigating” the reports. A spokesman for the Chandlers’ family could not immediately be reached.
Sources in the Somali town of Adado, 220 miles northwest of Mogadishu, said that Mr and Mrs Chandler were “safe and well” and would be offered food and a shower at the home of the town’s governor, Mohamed Aden Tiiceey. “We have them,” Mr Aden Tiiceey told The Daily Telegraph. “The pirates have officially handed them over us. They will be able to wash, and eat something small, and then we will be sending them home.”
The couple, from Tunbridge Wells, were given mobile telephones as soon as they were freed and made calls to their family.
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”.
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.
Mr and Mrs Chandler were being held 160 miles north of Adado, and were driven through the night to arrive in the town for the official handover at dawn today (Sunday 14 November).