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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Parents' joy at son's escape
Matthew Scott in a hospital bed
Matthew Scott survived on water for 12 days
The parents of a British backpacker who escaped from armed kidnappers in Colombia have spoken of their relief at hearing their son is safe.

Matthew Scott spent two days wandering the remote jungle after leaping down a cliff and into a river, 10 days after his kidnap ordeal first began.

His father, James, spoke to his son as he recovered from his ordeal in a military hospital in Santa Marta, northern Colombia.

"We're all very pleased and we're looking forward to seeing him. We're hoping he'll come back soon," he said.

Missing hostages

Matthew suffered exhaustion, dehydration, sunburn and cuts after surviving on only river water in the jungle.

His fellow hostages - British, Israeli, Spanish and German - remain missing after being snatched at the Lost City ruins.

James Scott
He was an ordinary boy on an ordinary trip - and then no longer
James Scott

Matthew's father has also spoken to the family of Briton Mark Henderson, from North Yorkshire, who remains missing along with six other hostages.

"Our worries are for the other families. What it must be like for them I don't know, not only for the Henderson family but the families of the Israelis, Spanish and German who are still there.

"Mark was very kind to Matthew. They are in our thoughts and prayers," he added.

Mr Scott, a 60-year-old retired orthopaedic surgeon, said his son had been enjoying a gap year from university.

"There were three things he wanted to do: learn a language, charity work and to do circus skills, as he is very interested in juggling."

'Ordinary boy'

Speaking outside his home in Clapham, south London, Mr Scott said his family had tried to survive waiting for news by just living day by day.

"He was an ordinary boy on an ordinary trip - and then no longer."

Matthew - who has a younger brother and three sisters - may leave Bogota for the UK on Thursday.

Mr Scott heard of his son's escape from his parish priest, the Rev Justine Allain Chapman, who has a Colombian au pair Brando Tanayo.

The au pair's mother in Colombia had phoned when news of Matthew's escape broke over there.

Ms Chapman delivered the news in person to the Scott family.

She said: "I felt like an angel bearing good tidings. We were all triumphant".

She said her au pair had said "That's the end of them" when he had heard of the kidnapping to which she had replied: "By the way, it's the boy next door, don't say that."

The 17-year-old, who knows people who have been kidnapped in Columbia, has warned others not to travel to that part of the country where the Briton was seized.

Father talks of kidnapped son
16 Sep 03  |  North Yorkshire
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15 Sep 03  |  UK
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19 Sep 03  |  Americas

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