Crew of hijacked tanker return home after 10 months in captivity

Sailors who were released from an Italian oil tanker after more than 10 months in captivity have arrived safely back home in India.

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FUJAIRAH // Crew members of an Italian oil tanker released by Somali pirates after more than 10 months in captivity have arrived in India with family members greeting them at the airport, according to Indian media reports.

The Savina Caylyn, an oil tanker with five Italians and 17 Indians on board, was seized on February 8 last year after five Somali pirates aboard a skiff opened fire on it with rocket launchers and submachine guns near the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The tanker, owned by Naples shipping company Fratelli D'Amato, was freed on December 21.

The oil tanker arrived at Fujairah on Friday night and some of the crew took a flight from the UAE to India, Indian media reported.

A relative of Bijesh Balakrishnan, one of the crew members who was freed, said he came home on Tuesday evening.

"We were very happy to see him after a long time. He looked happy and jovial. Our ordeal has ended," said Bala K, the father-in-law of Mr Balakrishnan.

Flanked by family, exchanging sweets and hugs, the sailors were in an emotional mood as they spoke of the horrors of the hijacking, Indian newspaper The Hindu said.

"We had a restricted amount of rice and water given to us. There was no contact with anyone outside and we constantly feared for our lives, each day was a struggle during captivity … I am eternally thankful to the authorities that negotiated our safe return," Gulaam Rabbani, one of the released crew members, told the newspaper.