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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Kidnapped couple due to return home

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Freed hostages Paul and Rachel Chandler are expected to set foot on British soil for the first time in more than a year following their “traumatic” kidnap ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates.

The retired couple, who were abducted as they sailed their yacht off the Seychelles in October 2009, are poised to return to the UK after a ransom was reportedly paid to secure their release.

They were handed over to local officials in the Somali town of Adado on Sunday after 388 days in captivity, before being flown to the capital Mogadishu and on to Nairobi, Kenya.

It is expected the couple, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, will be reunited with friends and family.

News of the couple’s freedom prompted joyous scenes with Prime Minister David Cameron, who spoke to Mr Chandler on Monday, declaring their release “tremendous news”.

The pair described the 13-month ordeal, revealing that they were beaten by their captors after refusing to be separated.

The couple were snatched during a round-the-world sailing trip, when their 38ft yacht, the Lynn Rival, was stormed by armed men.

The length of their incarceration meant Mr Chandler was unaware his father had died in July until being told on his release.

The 60-year-old said: “We’re fine. We are rather skinny and bony but we’re fine. The worst time was when we had to abandon our home and boat… in the ocean.”

His wife, 56, added: “Abandoning (our yacht) Lynn Rival when we were taken on board the container ship and brought eventually on shore was the worst time. Another time that was very traumatic was when they decided to separate us. We were really distraught, we were very frightened at that point. We refused to be separated and we were beaten as a result. That was very traumatic.”

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