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Wife's joy as captive freed

PUBLISHED: 15:20 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 July 2010

A GREAT Yarmouth oil worker seized at gunpoint after a ship he was working on allegedly strayed into an African country's waters has been released after being held for almost three weeks.

A GREAT Yarmouth oil worker seized at gunpoint after a ship he was working on allegedly strayed into an African country's waters has been released after being held for almost three weeks.

Father-of-two Chris Wood, 44, of St George's Road, was among 11 oil and gas workers - including seven Britons - who were held by the authorities in Equatorial Guinea.

Wife, Belinda, 41, said: “Chris has been released. I got an email from him at about 10am on Friday last week to say they've got back on board their vessel. They travelled to Cameroon where they will do some survey work but we hope he will be home in about two weeks.”

Mrs Wood added: “I can't stop smiling, it's such a relief. I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge ready for when he comes home. I spoke to him on Saturday and he sounded so relieved to be out and back on the vessel.”

She said Mr Wood had started “to get low” because the workers had no idea how long they were going to be held for.

The crew was testing survey equipment on its vessel, the MV Askalad, when it apparently strayed into Equatorial Guinea waters en route to Cameroon.

The crew, including a Belgian, South African, three Nigerians and three Ukrainians, were taken to the Tropicana Hotel in Malabo, the island's capital where they were held for almost three weeks.

Mrs Wood, daughter of local councillors Mike and Brenda Taylor, said her husband had been treated “well” while he was being held and that the couple were in daily contact through emails.

Mr Wood had been working in Africa since February 19 as a freelance surveyor for Wiltshire-based Gems UK

Originally from Bury, Mr Wood has worked as a surveyor since 1987 including a seven-year stint with Yarmouth-based Gardline.

He has been a freelance surveyor for more than 10 years working abroad in Africa and Abu Dhabi.

The couple have two daughters Anna, 14 and Laura, 17.

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