UK hostage on oil tanker says all captives well

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The Independent Online

One of the British hostages on board the oil tanker hijacked by Somali pirates has spoken of his captivity. Peter French is one of two British citizens on the Sirius Star, the giant Saudi-owned tanker which was seized by pirates off the Horn of Africa 10 days ago.

In a telephone call to ITV News, he said morale was high on the ship, but it was unclear whether the call was being monitored by his captors. He said: "The pirates [are] no problem whatsoever. We have had no mistreatment or anything. Hopefully we are going to get some more phone calls to our families soon. Our families don't have too much to worry about at the moment. All in all, we are not too badly off. The boys [the crew] are quite happy. We are talking to them all the time, reassuring them. Apart from the inconvenience of being locked up, our life is not too bad."

The Sirius Star has £65m of oil, and 25 crew members on board, including Mr French, the ship's chief engineer, from Co Durham, and second officer James Grady, from Renfrewshire. The pirates reportedly demanded a ransom of £16m for the release of the tanker and its crew, before later reducing this to £10m. Last week, the British and Saudi governments issued pleas to the Saudi owners of the Sirius Star to resist paying a ransom.

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