Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pirates could kill yacht couple 'in days'

Paul and Rachel Chandler
Paul and Rachel Chandler are being held hostage in Somalia

A British man kidnapped by Somali pirates says he fears he and his wife will be killed in a matter of days.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, disappeared while sailing towards Tanzania on 23 October.

In a telephone interview with ITN, Mr Chandler, 59, said he and his wife, 55, had been separated but they had spoken on the telephone 12 days ago.

He said his captors had lost patience and had set a deadline of three or four days before the couple would die.

In their last phone call, Mrs Chandler had told her husband she was being constantly tormented and was "giving up".

Beaten and whipped

Mr Chandler likened their treatment to that of a "captive animal".

He told ITN: "We tried to stay together and they threw us to the ground and whipped us, and beat Rachel with the rifle butts and I was dragged off and taken to a different location."

He said he was "just existing in hope" and said: "I'm afraid that they will just kill us and abandon us in the desert here."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and are doing everything we can to help secure a release.

"We remain in regular contact with the family and are providing support.

"We call for the safe and swift release of Paul and Rachel."

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