The six-man crew of a Danish cargo ship held hostage for more than two years was finally released Tuesday.
The crew was made up of two Danes and four Filipino men. It’s captain, Eddy López, is Chilean who later gained Danish citizenship. López was born in the coastal city of Valparaíso and moved to Denmark twelve years ago.
Shortly after January 12 2011, the families of the six men working aboard the W/V Leopard received horrible news — their loved ones had been taken by Somali pirates. For more than two long, agonizing years, they waited for any news about the sailors’ possible release. As of Tuesday, their prayers have been answered. The men are coming home.
The crew members will be reunited with their families in Denmark, Chile and the Philippines as soon as possible and are presently receiving medical attention and crisis counseling.
“I am relieved that the hostages have finally been released. It has been a prolonged and extremely exhausting hostage affair that has marred the seamen and their relatives. We do not yet have all details regarding the condition of the seamen but first and foremost we know they are safe and are given the required care,” said the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Villy Søvndal.
The cargo ship, owned by ShipCraft, was attacked while passing through the Indian Ocean on its way to Korea. The Somali pirates claimed they believed the ship to be dumping waste near Somali fishing waters. After the attack, the W/V Leopard was disabled, so the pirates left the boat to drift and took the crew as hostages.
López’s family had a particularly difficult experience, when rumors surfaced that the captain had died in captivity.
“The representative for the embassy called my mother to tell her that they had very bad news, that she should prepare herself. There had been a death and it was possibly your son,” Lopez’s sister told local press in December 2012.
These claims were later proven to be untrue, and López will soon be reunited with his family.
The release of the six men comes after ShipCraft paid a ransom to the pirates. The company was unable to give specifics about the payment for security reasons, but noted it was a large sum in its statement Tuesday.
“Considering possible future kidnapping situations Shipcraft cannot reveal the size of the ransom, but Shipcraft has paid considerable millions, substantially more
than previous kidnappings where Danish citizens have been involved,” ShipCraft said.