RANSOMED SAILOR GLAD TO RETURN TO FIJI

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He and Tuvaluan seamen was held hostage four months

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 14, 2009) – An overjoyed Wayne Suliana arrived home last night and vowed never to return to the seas off Somalia ever again.

Held hostage for four months by heavily-armed pirates, Mr Suliana said he was glad to be alive as his life was threatened on many occasions.

He said he and 11 other Tuvaluans, who work as crew on the seized German vessel, MV Hansa Stavanger, had given up hope of ever seeing their families again.

"It was horrible. We could not believe them anymore because several promises of release had been made during the course of our detainment," he said. "I have been a seaman for nine years and I love my work. I will go back to sea but never again to the Gulf of Aden. I will now choose where I go. I am so happy to be home. I felt I was in Fiji the moment I stepped on to the plane. It was Air Pacific and all the stewards were Fijian - I felt I was home."

He said he was carrying out routine maintenance work when the alarm was sounded.

"They first shot two rocket-propelled grenades at the bridge to force the ship to slow down. Five of them with heavy artillery boarded the ship and were later joined by others. There were 24 crew but we were easily outnumbered."

He said the pirates were aggressive and communication was frustrated by language barriers. Food was a problem and they were forced to fish to feed themselves.

The hostages were released after the shipping company paid the ransom.

Mr Suliana travels to Suva today to meet his family.

The cargo ship with around 1,070 containers was sea-jacked by Somali pirates on April 5, 400 km off the southern Somali port of Kismaayu.

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