Freed British couple 'very happy to be alive'

14th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rachel Chandler, a British woman held by Somali pirates together with her husband for more than a year, said Sunday after their release they were "very happy to be alive".

"We are feeling very happy to be alive and happy to be here," she said at a short press conference in Mogadishu, where the couple stopped over on their way to the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"We are among decent everyday people, with Somali people... and not with the criminals," she said at the presidential palace, flanked by her husband Paul, the Somali prime minister and parliament speaker.

"To home now, with our family and friends," she added.

Their plane flew in from the town of Adado, near the Ethiopian border, where they were escorted to the safety of the local self-proclaimed administration's headquarters earlier Sunday.

The plane left Mogadishu at around 3:00 pm (1200 GMT) and is now expected at Nairobi's Wilson airport, where British officials are expected to drive them to the high commission for a debriefing and a medical check-up.

The Chandlers were sailing their small yacht on the Indian Ocean from the Seychelles to Tanzania when they were hijacked by Somali pirates on October 23 last year.

According to Somali elders and sources close to the tortuous negotiations that led to their release, a total of at least 750,000 dollars were paid in ransom to the pirates.

© 2010 AFP

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