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Kidnapped Danish cruising sailors 'exhausted, demoralised'

by Radio Netherlands/Sail-World Cruising on 25 Mar 2011
Gumbah near where the Danish cruising sailors are anchored, kept captive .. .
The Danish cruising family and their two crew, kidnapped on February 24 by Somali pirates, have been described as being exhausted, tired, angry and demoralised by a Danish reporter who was allowed to see them on the Greek vessel where they are anchored near Gumbah.

The kidnappers are demanding $5 million for the release of Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, their teenagers, Rune, Hjalte et Naja and two other crew, the newspaper said in an article which carried no by-line for the safety of the reporter.

He said the pirates let him board their mother ship to meet the Johansen family.

'The father (Jan) seems exhausted,' the unnamed reporter said in the report based on 24 hours spent on the boat at a date not specified.

'He seems ill. The rest of the family is tired and angry,' he reported.

'Jan and I shook hands and he was clearly glad to see me. The others were told to sit down on the deck behind him,' the reporter wrote.

'One of the crew members never lifted his eyes once. He seemed crushed, demoralised. While I was with them he only looked at the deck. They all want the nightmare to be over as soon as possible.'

The pirates would not let their captives talk to him, the reporter said. Jan Quist Johansen was only able to tell him that the pirates had been warned 'from Denmark that an interview would complicate negotiations under way'.

'That could put us in further danger so I cannot talk to you,' Johansen said.

The reporter said that he had heard while on the boat that the pirates had demanded a $5 million ransom but only been offered some hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After being seized aboard their yacht off the coast of Somalia the captives were taken to the village of Hul-Anod in the self-proclaimed autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast of Somalia.

Government troops tried unsuccessfully to free them on March 10 and they were taken back to their yacht and then transferred to the pirates' mother ship, a Greek vessel captured earlier.

They are now anchored at Gumbah, Bari, in the Baargal region where it is apparently easier to avoid government forces.

Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, and three children aged between 13 and 17, Rune, Hjalte et Naja, left Denmark in August 2009 to sail round the world, planning to return at the end of this year. Two companions accompanied them.

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