Seven Indian sailors aboard the MV Asphalt Venture, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2010 and were freed on October 30, finally flew into Mumbai from Nairobi on Monday afternoon.
After spending four long years in fear of their lives, and suffering severe mental and physical anguish, the smile finally returned to the faces of seven Indian sailors on Monday as they were reunited with their loved ones on their return to Mumbai.
Scenes of immense joy and tears were witnessed at the airport as the sailors met with their families.
The seven, crew of the MV Asphalt Venture -- a Panama-flagged vessel -- had been taken hostage by Somali pirates back in 2010. However, on October 30, they were released after their employers paid an undisclosed ransom fee.
According to sources, the seven were kept in captivity on land in Africa after the pirates released eight of their colleagues along with the ship three years ago.
Those who arrived here include Bahadur Singh, 60, and Manjeet Singh, 60, from Mumbai, Unnikrishnan Bhaskaran, 60, and K George, 40, from Kerala, Deniston, 27, from Tamil Nadu, and Bhim Singh, 40 from Vishakapatnam.
MV Asphalt Venture was one of the longest hostage sagas lasting over four years.
Eight members of the crew and the ship were released in April 2011, but the rest were held captive in an unknown location until Thursday because ransom demands were not met.
The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme, a seafarers’ association, played a key role in the rescue efforts. The chairman of MPHRP, Peter Swift, said, “After more than four years in captivity, we are delighted for them and their families especially after the terrible ordeal and hardship they have suffered. The efforts and generous support of all those who helped to secure their release and safe return are greatly appreciated.”
Somali pirates have been infamous for hijacking ships but the last such incident was reported in May 2012. At one point of time in 2011, more than a dozen merchant ships were being held captive and often million-dollar ransoms were sought by the pirates.