Vietnamese crew return after Somali hijacking

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Twenty four Vietnamese crewmen on a ship that was kidnapped by Somali pirates off Oman in January have returned in Vietnam after nine months in captivity.

The crew of Hoang Son Sun MV arrived at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi Friday on a flight from Bangkok, where they had a transferred from a flight from Oman.

The Mongolia-flagged ship was released last week after its owner, the Vietnamese company Hoang Son Co. Ltd, agreed to pay the pirates US$4.5 million in ransom, according to Somalia Report.

After a teary reunion with his wife, Do Minh Thang, one of the crew members, said that during the nine-month custody, they had all their belongings, including clothes, taken, and weren't allowed to leave the ship.

They also had all their stored drugs stolen, and weren't given any when they were sick, he added.

Although they weren't forced to work every day, the pirates would beat them once in a while, Thang said.

"There were many times when they pointed their gun at my head, threatening to kill me," he said.

Thang said thanks to the crew's unity, no one suffered critical injuries and sicknesses during the custody, although each of them lost up to ten kilos in weight.

Nguyen Duc Dung, father-in-law of captain Dinh Tat Thang, told Thanh Nien during the custody, Thang was allowed to call home a couple of times and he told them that they were mainly given potatoes.

"Arriving home and seeing my family cry out loud, I still think it was a dream. To come home is truly a miracle. We've really returned from hell," said Le Huy Dan, deputy captain of the ship.

A representative of the Hoang Son Company said that they would guarantee all the crewmen's benefits.

The 22,835-DWT bulk carrier was carrying 21,000 tons of iron ore, when it was hijacked on January 17 some 520 nautical miles southeast of Muscat, Oman.

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