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‘We ate rats,’ says Pinoy among 26 freed by Somali pirates

Sailors who had been held hostage by pirates for more than four years, and were released in Somalia on Saturday, react as they arrive at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. A Somali pirate said Saturday that 26 Asian sailors held hostage for more than four years had been released after a ransom was paid, and international mediators said it "represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy." (AP Photo) Manila Bulletin

Sailors who had been held hostage by pirates for more than four years, and were released in Somalia on Saturday, react as they arrive at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. A Somali pirate said Saturday that 26 Asian sailors held hostage for more than four years had been released after a ransom was paid, and international mediators said it “represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy.” (AP Photo) Manila Bulletin

A Filipino sailor who was among the 26 freed hostages of the Somali pirates shared the harrowing ordeal they endured for more than four years in the hands of their captors.

Arnel Balbero told The Newsroom program of the BBC World Service how little food and water they had consumed, to the point that they ate rats just to survive.

“You don’t say, ‘I don’t like that.’ No. You just eat. We eat rat. We cook it,” Balbero narrated.

He likened himself and his fellow sailors to “the walking dead” as they had a hard time adjusting to their surroundings after four years in captivity.

“I don’t know what is… outside of this world when this [is finished], so it’s very hard to start again,” Balbero said.

The 26 sailors were aboard the fishing boat FV Naham 3, which was sailing south of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean in 2012 when the Somali pirates took over.

A year later, the hostages—from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan—were brought to Somalia after their ship sank.

Pirate representative Bile Hussein claimed the sailors were freed after a $1.5-million ransom was paid.

(With reports from AP)