Ctg airport witnesses a highly emotion-charged reunion on arrival of 26 crews freed by Somali pirates... Monday, 21.Mar.2011, 22:39 (GMT+3)
Emotion-choked family members of Abu Naser, a freed sailor of MV Jahan Moni, receive him at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong yesterday. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das
Torrents of tears and smiles, joy and relief engulfed Shah Amanat International Airport as the 26 crew of hijacked ship MV Jahan Moni landed yesterday afternoon.
A flight of Oman airways boeing 737-800 brought the crew home after their agonising 100-day captivity at the Gulf of Aden on Somali coast.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan received the returnees with bouquets at the airport's VIP Lounge. The crew were also welcomed through a reception at a brief ceremony at the airport.
Most of the crewmembers failed to hold tears when reunited with their families.
âI thought that I would not be able to get back home ever. I passed my time in great panic and anxiety and always kept praying,â said one of the returnees Rukhsana Gulzar, wife of the ship's Chief Engineer Matiul Aawla.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni also found it hard to hold her emotion seeing the reunion.
She said, âIt felt as if it were thousand days, not 100. We all went through impossible times and emotions.â
At the airport, something celestial was waiting for Second Engineer Main Uddin. It was his first child, born on December 23. Main Uddin ran to the baby and picked it up from his wife's lap. He held the child high.
He told The Daily Star that the news of his child's birth, which he received through the ship's owners, helped him pass the horrific days as a hostage.
Shaila Naz Ahmed, wife of the hijacked ship's captain Farid Ahmed, said, âI can't even dare to think of the terrible days and sleepless nights. From now on, I will only think of future.â
Bilkis Rahman, mother of the youngest crewmember of the ship Engine Cadet Shahriar Rabbi, who knocked every door including the ship's owner firm and different government departments over the last three months for her son's release, was found so happy yesterday.
âI have arranged feast for my neighbours and relatives on the occasion,â said the peaceful mother.
Awami League leaders including former mayor of Chittagong ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, Akhteruzzaman Chowdhury Babu MP, officials of Mercantile Marine Department, Department of Shipping and MV Jahan Moni's owner and operating firms including SR Shipping and Brave Royal Ship Management Ltd were also present at the airport.
The families of the crew, who waited holding their breaths all this time, could not wait any longer to meet their loved and almost lost ones when the flight landed at the airport half-an-hour late.
Before the arrival, in a press conference at the VIP Lounge the ministers said the 26 people on board could be freed due to the all out effort of the government with cooperation from the ship's owner firm.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said the government was monitoring the matter round the clock and extended necessary support for the release of the hostages.
Trashing giving of any ransom, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan said the government did everything for the safe return of the crew.
Addressing the ceremony Dipu Moni thanked the families of the abducted crew members for their patience and trust on the government all this time.
She said, âI know those 100 days were more than thousand years. We also went through the same anxiety. I wish they [the crew] recover from the horrible experience soon.â
Bangladesh would be actively involved with the ongoing international initiative to make the movement of its merchant vessels safe.
Captain of the ship Farid Ahmed who addressed the ceremony expressed his gratitude to the government and the ship authorities for taking steps to release them at the earliest period.
Chief Engineer Matiul Mawla urged the government to take necessary steps regarding safety of the Bangladeshi mariners.
Mohammed Shahjahan, owner of the ship and managing director of the ship's owner firm SR Shipping who also arrived with the crews on the same flight, said he is so happy to bring back the crews safely.
The Bangladesh flag carrier was freed on March 14 and it berthed safely at the Salalah port in Oman around 11:25am (BST) on Saturday, five days after its release.
The ship along with 26 Bangladeshis was hijacked by Somali pirates on December 5 last year in the Arabian Sea. Six days later, the ship anchored at the Somali coast.