Hostage 'has eye infection'

A British man being held hostage by Somali pirates is suffering from a serious eye infection which could leave him blind, it was reported yesterday.

Paul Chandler, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and his wife Rachel have been held for more than four months after they were captured while sailing from the Seychelles towards Tanzania.

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A photographer who has filmed the couple since they were captured said the pirates have requested medicine to treat Mr Chandler's eyes. Mohamed Dahir, a Somali freelance photographer, said the group contacted Dr Mohamed Helmi Hangul, in Mogadishu.

Mr Chandler is reported to be suffering from trachoma, which is caused by the chlamydia trachomatis micro-organism and is spread by flies or through contact with an infected person.

The British Government has refused to pay a ransom for the couple and called for their immediate release.