HT Image
HT Image

Philippine ship crew freed by pirates returns home

The 23 crewmen of a Philippine tanker seized by Somali pirates made a tearful homecoming on Saturday after more than five months in captivity and several days drifting at sea even following their release.
By HT Correspondent | AP, Manila
UPDATED ON MAY 02, 2009 03:54 PM IST

The 23 crewmen of a Philippine tanker seized by Somali pirates made a tearful homecoming on Saturday after more than five months in captivity and several days drifting at sea even following their release.

Greeted at Manila airport by anxious relatives, the crew of the MT Stolt Strength told of fearing for their lives as the brigands threatened them and sometimes fought with one another. The skipper's wife, Asuncion, said of their arrival, "A thorn had been removed."

The pirates seized the chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden on Nov. 10 while it was on its way to India with a cargo of phosphoric acid. They released the ship and the crew April 21 after $2.5 million in ransom was paid. "Every day, we feared for our lives," Abelardo Pacheco, the 62-year-old skipper of the Stolt Strength, told The Associated Press. "The threat was ever-present because if we made the wrong move ... we would be shot."

He likened being freed to receiving a pardon after a death sentence.

But their release did not bring immediate relief. After dropping the pirates close to shore, the ship remained vulnerable, unable to speed to a safe harbor because it was low on fuel. Pacheco said the crew feared another attack because "we were still in their radars."

German, U.S. and Chinese naval vessels eventually came to their aid, providing food, medicine and fuel, which allowed them to sail to Oman where they stayed for two days before flying home to Manila. Though the pirates have given the impression of scary competence _ attacking oil tankers and cruise ships _ the groups are usually ragtag, and this evident disorganization was a source of fear, Second Mate Carlo Deseo said.

They "did not seem to know what they were doing," he said. He said the crew once had to treat three pirates who were wounded in a gunfight on the ship with fellow pirates. He also patched up a pirate injured while climbing aboard the ship.

Later, the brigand pointed a pistol at his head, demanding his cell phone. The gunman relented when he remembered Deseo had treated his leg wound. "He laughed and shook my hand," he said, describing the situation as funny.

Still, many of the crew said they might take to the seas again. "This is the only profession I know," Deseo said, though Pacheco indicated he would look for another job first. The ordeal almost cost Deseo his faith, he said. "We all prayed and prayed but nothing happened ... but (God) gave what we have been asking for and I was very thankful," he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Harry and Meghan interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. (Reuters)
Harry and Meghan interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. (Reuters)

British minister says on Meghan interview: 'No place for racism in our society'

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:13 PM IST
  • Meghan, the wife of Prince Harry, accused Britain's royal family of raising concerns about how dark their son's skin might be and pushing her to the brink of suicide, in a tell-all television interview that will send shockwaves through the monarchy.
Close
Harry and Meghan are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated hand-out photo. (REUTERS)
Harry and Meghan are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated hand-out photo. (REUTERS)

Meghan, Harry say UK royals were worried ‘how dark’ their son Archie would be

By Yashwant Raj I Edited by Nadim Siraj
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:06 PM IST
In another revelation that underlines the former royal couple’s estranged relationship with Buckingham Palace, Harry and Meghan said they were financially cut off by the UK royal family
Close
With Biden now cruising to his first legislative victory less than two months after proposing his relief bill, economists have baked its effects into their forecasts for a stronger recovery in 2021.(AP Photo)
With Biden now cruising to his first legislative victory less than two months after proposing his relief bill, economists have baked its effects into their forecasts for a stronger recovery in 2021.(AP Photo)

Joe Biden’s giant stimulus to easily pass House, say Democrats

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:04 PM IST
Progressive House Democrats are already turning their attention to getting their proposals in a second budget reconciliation bill -- which allows for Senate approval by a simple majority.
Close
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, while speaking during a news conference in Hong Kong, China.(Bloomberg)
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, while speaking during a news conference in Hong Kong, China.(Bloomberg)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam 'fully welcomes' proposed electoral changes

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:04 PM IST
  • Chinese authorities have said the draft decision before China's National People’s Congress would mean the largely pro-Beijing committee that elects Hong Kong’s leader would also choose a large part of the legislature to ensure that the city is run by “patriots.”
Close
A doctor looks at the vial before receiving a vaccine, as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam,(Reuters)
A doctor looks at the vial before receiving a vaccine, as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam,(Reuters)

Vietnam vaccinates Covid-19 front-liners with its 1st doses

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:58 PM IST
  • The Southeast Asian nation of 96 million people has a goal to inoculate at least half of the population by the end of the year.
Close
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern(Reuters)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern(Reuters)

Royal interview unlikely to affect New Zealand

AP, Wellington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:58 PM IST
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked by a reporter whether the unflattering picture of the British royal family painted by Harry and Meghan had given her pause about New Zealand's constitutional ties to Britain.
Close
Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Monday, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)(AP)
Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Monday, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)(AP)

Pope leaves Iraq for Rome after historic whirlwind visit

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:41 PM IST
As the pope's plane took off, Iraqi President Barham Salih was at hand on the tarmac, waving goodbye.
Close
Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.(Bloomberg)
Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.(Bloomberg)

Malaysia to buy more Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:39 PM IST
  • The Southeast Asian country last month embarked on a nationwide vaccination programme, targeting to inoculate 80% of its 32 million people by February 2022.
Close
A man rides a motorbike with a woman wearing a burqa sitting behind along a road in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province.(AFP)
A man rides a motorbike with a woman wearing a burqa sitting behind along a road in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province.(AFP)

As US mulls Afghan exit, activist sees long fight for women

AP, Kabul
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:46 PM IST
Under a 2020 deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration, all US troops are to leave Afghanistan by May 1. The Biden administration says it's reviewing the deal, suggesting it may not meet the deadline.
Close
First lady Jill Biden speaks while visiting a robotics lab as she tours Fort LeBoeuf Middle School in Waterford, Pa., Wednesday, March 3, 2021.(AP)
First lady Jill Biden speaks while visiting a robotics lab as she tours Fort LeBoeuf Middle School in Waterford, Pa., Wednesday, March 3, 2021.(AP)

Jill Biden sees teachable moment in the depths of a pandemic

AP, Waterford
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:27 PM IST
A teacher herself, Biden praised the small circle of parents, teachers and administrators for working together to help reopen Fort LeBoeuf.
Close
US President Joe Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in response to coronavirus, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 22, 2021. (AFP/FILE)
US President Joe Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in response to coronavirus, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 22, 2021. (AFP/FILE)

China tells Biden to reverse 'dangerous practice' on Taiwan

AP, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:26 PM IST
The claim to Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949, is an “insurmountable red line,” Wang Yi said at a news conference during the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature.
Close
Shaukat Ali Kashmiri said UKPNP is opposed to the use of religion as a weapon and terrorism as a foreign policy tool.(AP File Photo)
Shaukat Ali Kashmiri said UKPNP is opposed to the use of religion as a weapon and terrorism as a foreign policy tool.(AP File Photo)

UKPNP Chairman says part of J-K illegally held by Pakistan since 1947

ANI, Geneva
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:14 PM IST
According to a UN resolution, Pakistan is obligated to ensure life, liberty, the dignity of the people of Pakistan-occupied and Gilgit Baltistan, the chairman said.
Close
Meghan Markle gives an interview to Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo.(VIA REUTERS)
Meghan Markle gives an interview to Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo.(VIA REUTERS)

'Realised soon royal family wouldn't protect me,' says Meghan Markle

AP, Montecito
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:56 AM IST
In their pre-taped interview on Sunday night, Meghan also said, when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.”
Close
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 27, 2017 Britain's Prince Harry and his fianc�e US actress Meghan Markle pose for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London, following the announcement of their engagement. - Meghan Markle has experienced remarkable highs and lows during a tumultuous period in which she married into royalty and became a mother before souring on life in Britain and returning to the United States. The 39-year-old American former television actress shot to global stardom with her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017 and their fairytale wedding six months later. She gave birth to their son, Archie, in 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)(AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 27, 2017 Britain's Prince Harry and his fianc�e US actress Meghan Markle pose for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London, following the announcement of their engagement. - Meghan Markle has experienced remarkable highs and lows during a tumultuous period in which she married into royalty and became a mother before souring on life in Britain and returning to the United States. The 39-year-old American former television actress shot to global stardom with her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017 and their fairytale wedding six months later. She gave birth to their son, Archie, in 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)(AFP)

It's a girl, Meghan Markle and Harry tell Oprah

AP, Montecito
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 09:09 AM IST
Harry said "to have a boy and then a girl, what more can you ask for? But now we've got our family. We've got the four of us and our two dogs."
Close
Intricacies during pregnancy connected to higher risk of death(Unsplash)
Intricacies during pregnancy connected to higher risk of death(Unsplash)

Women can be fired for pregnancy in 28 nations, says World Bank’s Reinhart

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 08:54 AM IST
The pandemic has contributed to an increase in violence against women and is reinforcing gender inequality in many countries, with women on average having roughly three-quarters of the legal rights of men, according to the World Bank.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP