Three Turkish crew members who were working on a Liberian-flagged cargo ship that was hijacked by pirates off Nigeria returned to Turkey on Saturday.
Fourth Captain of the Mozart, Furkan Yaren, chief engineer Ilhan Suha Tatlıgül and Bahadir Yeşilalan, the oiler in the engine room, arrived at Istanbul Airport where they detailed their harrowing experience to the waiting press.
Yaren told reporters that he injured his leg in the attack and thanked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu for their response, as Turkey immediately launched rescue efforts.
"I hope other friends will be able to get back to their families as soon as possible," he added.
"We started to wait for help by closing the safety gates. Then they separated us. I don't remember how many people they are. They took our friends. We moved the ship to a safe point," he said,
"We gave the necessary information to authorities. We lost a friend and we are so sorry," said Yaren.
"I'm so glad to be reunited with my family," he said.
Tatlıgül explained that they locked themselves in the helm station during the attack and the pirates shot at doors trying to get in, much like in a horror movie.
"They hit the doors with a sledgehammer for hours. They kept trying for six, seven hours. At that time, our Azerbaijani colleague died. I fell from a height and was slightly injured. Then they took the other friends. They didn't take me because they couldn't find me. Then they fled, leaving two wounded," he said.
"Unfortunately, 15 of our friends were captured. There is not much to talk about. We should not upset their families any more or remind them of their pain," said Yeşilalan.
In a pirate attack last week, 15 of the Mozart cargo ship's 19 crew members were abducted, while an Azerbaijani national was killed.
Following the attack, Mozart anchored Sunday at the nearby Port-Gentil, but with only three of its surviving crew members on board.
On Wednesday, an Istanbul-based firm that provides technical management services for the vessel, said all 15 crew members are in good health and uninjured after the pirates made first contact.
"Boden Shipping communicated with the crew members of the container ship Mozart, which was hijacked off Sao Tome on Jan. 23, 2021," said a statement by the firm.