Kidnapped yacht couple plead for help

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The Independent Online

A desperate plea for help by a British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates emerged today.

A gaunt-looking Rachel Chandler, who is being kept separate from her husband Paul, said they were being treated "cruelly" by the pirates who kidnapped the couple in the Indian Ocean more than three months ago.

She begged to be reunited with him and pleaded for help to secure their release in a new film broadcast by Sky News.

The couple, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were captured while sailing from the Seychelles towards Tanzania in their yacht Lynn Rival on October 23.

They have previously spoken of their fears they will be killed as the pirates' demands for money prove fruitless.

The Foreign Office today reiterated its stance that it would not pay a ransom for the couple.

Mrs Chandler, who told a medic who was allowed to examine the pair she was suffering from insomnia and struggling to stay sane in the face of their plight, said: "If I was with my husband I would feel a lot better.

"It's because I am not with my husband that I am feeling so lonely and desperate and finding it difficult to sleep.

"I need to be with Paul. We are husband and wife. We have always been together and we look after one another.

"I am 56 years old and my husband is 60 years old - we are not young people.

"These people are treating us so cruelly."

The video was recorded on Thursday and smuggled out of Somalia, a spokesman for Sky said.

In a separate scene Mr Chandler said: "I just want to say please to my government get me and my wife out of here.

"We are innocent, we have done no wrong.

"We have no money and we can't pay a ransom.

"We just need the government to help, anyone who can help get us out of here.

"We're kept day after day - this is 98 days today of solitary confinement, no exercise.

"I don't know what to do.

"Will somebody please help? The government or somebody else."

The medic, Mohamed Helmi Hangul, reportedly found Mr Chandler to be in a better state then his wife - although both have lost weight.

"She is sick, she is very anxious, she suffers from insomnia," Dr Hangul told Sky News.

"She's very confused, she's always asking about her husband - 'Where's my husband, where's my husband?' - and she seems completely disorientated."

Last week, Foreign Secretary David Miliband insisted the Government would not get involved in any ransom payments to secure the Chandlers' release.

He said he could not stop private individuals from pursuing the possibility of a ransom deal, but that the Government had always made it clear that making concessions to hostage-takers was not in Britain's interests.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and are doing everything we can to help secure a release.

"We remain in regular contact with the family and are providing support.

"We call for the safe and swift release of Paul and Rachel."

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