Broken and in despair, kidnapped British yachtsman Paul Chandler has spoken of his fears that he and his wife Rachel may be executed within days.
On a crackling telephone line from Somalia - where the couple are being held to ransom by pirates - he said: 'They have lost patience. They have set a deadline of three or four days.
'If they don't hear, then they say they will let us die. I'm just existing in hope. I'm afraid that they will just kill us and abandon us in the desert here.'
In a heartbreaking conversation, Mr Chandler described the brutal treatment meted out to the retired couple since pirates seized their yacht last October.
And he confirmed that a Royal Navy vessel was tantalisingly close to their 38ft boat, the Lynn Rival, but the opportunity was missed to rescue them.
Mr Chandler, 59, talking to ITV News on Wednesday night, said he had been forcibly separated from his wife by their kidnappers - who told the Mail earlier this month that they would kill the couple unless a £ 1.9million ransom was paid by the end of February.
The retired quantity surveyor said: 'We tried to stay together and they threw us to the ground and whipped us, and beat Rachel with rifle butts and I was dragged off and taken to a different location. I was allowed to telephone her about 12 days ago.
'She said she was being tormented all the time and she said she was giving up.
'We're held in solitary confinement effectively, just treated as a captive animal.'
Mr Chandler also confirmed that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, the Wave Night, was very close when the couple were first transferred from their yacht onto a captured container vessel used as a 'mother ship' by the pirates.
'There was a warship only 50, 100 yards away,' said Mr Chandler. 'They shone the lights.'
Asked if he thought the Wave Night could have rescued them, Mr Chandler told ITV News: 'I don't know. I think with hindsight, yes. I don't blame them because we were told to tell them on the radio to stand off, otherwise we would be killed and there were men with guns.
'They took that at face value. With hindsight that might have been the opportunity to call their bluff.'
ITV News said a Special Boat Service team, specifically trained in rescuing hostages from ships, was meant to be on another warship on its way to the scene but was delayed by what one source called 'a comedy of errors' involving delays, and senior naval officers vetoing a rescue attempt.
Mr Chandler’s chilling message echoed the warning given to the Mail earlier this month by the pirates holding the couple. Then the gang issued an ultimatum: ‘Pay up or we’ll shoot them.’
One Somali, who gave his name as Noor, said: ‘We are giving an ultimatum of two months from January 1.
If we are not paid $3million we are ready to shoot them. It is becoming too expensive to hold these people.’
Mr Chandler and his wife, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were kidnapped at gunpoint in October as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania. They have been moved around every 48 hours and separated from each other.
In one incident recounted to the Mail and confirmed by Mr Chandler to ITV, the couple clung together and begged not to be parted until their ruthless captors resorted to force to separate them.
Mrs Chandler, 55, an economist, was injured in the incident and was treated by a doctor in Somalia, according to her captors. The Chandlers were on a round-the-world trip aboard their yacht when they were kidnapped in the Indian Ocean.
The pirate gang have already warned they will 'burn the bones' of the couple if any attempt is made to free them.
The gang initially demanded a £4.3million ransom from the Chandlers' relatives.
In November the couple appeared in a video being held at gunpoint by their kidnappers and last month the Chandlers pleaded with the Government to 'get us out by Christmas, by whatever means.'
Reports suggested the couple's release was almost secured last month until the Government allegedly blocked the deal because it went against a policy on negotiating.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'We are monitoring the situation very closely and doing everything we can to secure the release of the Chandlers.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245084/British-couple-held-Somali-pirates-say-executed-days.html#ixzz0dKOMaDM7
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