Chandlers reveal living conditions

The British couple held hostage by Somalian pirates have made a new televison appeal, revealing the brutal conditions that they are being subjected to.

Paul and Rachel Chandler were captured between the Seychelles and Tanzania in October while sailing their Rival 38, Lynn Rival.

In the new plea, broadcast yesterday on ITV and Channel Four news, Mrs Chandler said: ‘We are just animals to them.

‘They don’t care about our feelings and our family and our lives and what they’ve taken. They don’t care whose lives they ruin. They just want the money.

‘They don’t understand that we are just ordinary people. They think we come from a rich country and that if they point a gun at us and threaten us that we will find a way of raising money.’

Mr Chandler, 60, revealed that almost half of their days in captivity have been spent apart, he said: ‘We don’t have children so we’re very close to each other.

‘We’ve never been apart for more than a few days. We’ve been married almost 30 years, so to be separated is real torture.’

‘The second time we were separated we refused to be separated initially, and that was a bit silly.

‘We were physically separated, we were whipped and Rachel was hit with a rifle butt and has a broken tooth.

‘It’s a long time ago, the wounds have healed. And that was the only occasion, only one occasion, when we had any real aggression.’

Mrs Chandler, 56, added: ‘They never tell us what’s happening next. Especially when we were isolated, when we were on our own, simply not knowing what was happening and whether we would be together again – when, where each other was, was real torture, mental torture.’

The Tunbridge Wells couple also pleaded with new Prime Minister David Cameron to help secure their release.

Mr Chandler said: ‘As new prime minister, we desperately need him to make a definitive public statement of the government’s attitude to us.

‘If the government is not prepared to help, then they must say so, because the gangsters’ expectations and hopes have been raised at the thought of a new government and there might be a different approach.’

But a Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘Paul and Rachel Chandler are innocent tourists. They were sailing their yacht when taken hostage by a criminal gang seven months ago.

‘The UK government’s policy of not making or facilitating substantive concessions to hostage-takers, including the payment of ransoms, is long-standing and clear. This has been the policy of successive governments and has not changed.

‘Our thoughts are with their families on the release of this video, and our consular officials are in close touch with them. We again urge those holding Paul and Rachel to release them safely, immediately and unconditionally.’

The appeal was filmed at the weekend by a Somali journalist, Jamal Osman, who lives in Britain.

He said: ‘After the interview, I thought what it must be like for the poor Chandlers, surrounded by men armed with heavy machine guns who have no value for human life. For them, killing is part of everyday life.

‘Credit to the Chandlers, I was very impressed with them and the way they are coping with this horrific ordeal. In particular, Rachel seemed resilient. The gang was even complaining about her determination not to be terrorized.’