Relief as oil rig hostages are released

A FAMILY spoke of their relief last night after a north Suffolk man held hostage on a Nigerian oil rig was released safely.Martyn Etheridge, 41, from Lowestoft, was among 35 British oil workers trapped on the rig, about 70 miles off the Nigerian coast, following a strike by their African colleagues over a disciplinary dispute.

By David Lennard

A FAMILY spoke of their relief last night after a north Suffolk man held hostage on a Nigerian oil rig was released safely.

Martyn Etheridge, 41, from Lowestoft, was among 35 British oil workers trapped on the rig, about 70 miles off the Nigerian coast, following a strike by their African colleagues over a disciplinary dispute.

The Britons' ordeal began on April 19 but yesterday the dispute was settled and those being held were allowed to leave the rig.


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When Mr Etheridge arrived on shore in Nigeria the first thing he did was telephone his family back home in Suffolk.

His wife Glynnis and two daughters, Stacey, 15, and Calli, 12, were delighted to hear that he was safe and well.

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Stacey said: "Mum had been feeling quite poorly all day but hearing that dad and all the other hostages were safe and well was just what she wanted to hear.

"It is really great to know that he is no longer being kept captive although he telephoned us regularly to let us know he was okay."

Mr Etheridge told his family that he will be returning to their Gunton Church Lane home in the next few days and was looking forward to seeing them again.

"It is just such a relief and everyone is feeling so happy," said Stacey.

The dispute in Nigeria involved the holding of more than 250 captives and had showed no sign of ending.

However, a settlement was agreed between the employers and the hostage takers' designated negotiators.

"Any moment from now, all those on the rigs will leave," said the secretary general of Nigeria's biggest oil workers union, Joseph Akinlaja, who aided the negotiations.

Another Nigerian union official, Peter Akpatason, confirmed the hostages' release and said: "The dispute has been resolved."

Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Transocean, the Houston-based company that owns the rigs, said he understood the hostages had been released from the offshore platforms where they had been held by about 100 disgruntled Nigerian workers.

Mr Etheridge is an experienced oil worker and has worked on rigs all over the world including Singapore, Dubai, Mexico and Norway.

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