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Kidnapped Aid Workers Speak of Continuing Ordeal Aboard Absconding Greek ShipSalem-News.com
(DERNA PORT) - 10 aid workers have made their first contact by mobile phone text messages to family and friends. They have spoken at length about their ordeal onboard "Strofades IV" Greek-owned ship, registered in Malta.
The 10 aid workers are out of physical danger, sitting together in one small cabin in the lower-deck's crew quarters of the ship. They want to reassure everyone they are OK:
There are 7 (more than previously reported) Libyans on the ship as well. The Libyans include customs inspectors, border police and the harbour manager for Derna Port. The Libyans are being treated better than the aid workers, seem to have separate cabins, have more freedom of movement and are in contact with Libyan authorities by radio and mobile phone.
Kieran Turner says: "At one point we managed to get hold of a ship's radio, and got through to a nearby tanker - OCL Oakland. Through the tanker we sent out distress messages, requesting help, and these got passed onto two alleged Nato warships in the area P492 and F452."
Ken O'Keefe added: "They said they would help, but no one has come to rescue us. That was some hours ago."
Kieran adds: "At first we were made to stay in the loading bay area at the rear of the ship, which was really dangerous once the ship got out to sea - the ship's loading door is still open at a 45degree angle! They didn't give us any life jackets. And that was when the weather was still calm. The weather is rough now - you can just imagine..."
Kieran further adds: "Initially we were stopped from moving around the ship and had to stay in the bottom of the lower deck. Eventually we just walked through to the crew quarters, and they've let us occupy their small smoking room. At least we are safe and in the dry, and it has a couch so we can try to sleep. We've been given one meal, of sorts, since the ship left Derna. We've got access to water, but it's not drinking water."
Ken O'Keefe has tried to talk to the Captain on a number of occasions. At first he succeeded in talking to him, but since then the captain has blanked him.
The 10 convoyers still do not know where the boat is headed. They asked Ellie to describe to them where the ship appeared on an internet "ship tracking" website. She described they were about 25 miles off the western tip of Crete, heading due north further into Greek territorial waters. The guess is that the berthing port chosen by the captain will be a small, regional port west of Athens on mainland Greece, several hours sail away.
Ellie says: "The relief being able to talk to them was huge: to know they are physically safe and unharmed. However, we remain extremely worried about their overall safety - rough seas, and a bow door open at 45degree angle? It's criminal the captain is sailing in rough weather with an unsecured vessel. Really shocking. I am also disappointed to hear the ship owner and his assistant are armed, and refuse to give the convoyers freedom of movement around the ship. The aid workers are genuine hostages. It is still deeply worrying."
Source: International Solidarity Movement
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