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Former Lismore man attacked by pirates in PNG

Craig Hand with some friendly PNG villagers prior to his run-in with pirates.
Craig Hand with some friendly PNG villagers prior to his run-in with pirates. Contributed

A FORMER Lismore resident is lucky to be alive after being attacked by pirates in Papua New Guinea.

Craig 'Crackers' Hand was bashed by Indonesian pirates on his way to deliver medical supplies to remote tribes in PNG's Western Province.

He and a tribesman, Gwama, had set up camp on the secluded Tais Beach when a tide swept in and upturned his four-metre boat, submerging the vessel and a number of valuables.

They asked five "traders" who were camping at the other end of the beach and who had a boat to take them out so they could retrieve the items.

At first they thought themselves fortunate that helpings hands were on the beach with them but it turned out these "traders" were really pirates.

Mr Hand could not find a canister containing a sum of money off his capsized boat but retrieved a blue bag containing his wallet and passed it to Gwama, who then gave it to the "traders" so the pair could continue searching.

The murky water, it turned out, was only one metre deep, so Mr Hand and Gwama carried some items back to shore but the traders went back to their camp site with Mr Hand's blue bag and wallet.

"We eventually got the guys to bring up the blue bag and my wallet was missing," Mr Hand said.

"The traders took off the next day and I found my canister in the mangroves near their camp with the lid still on it but the money missing."

The pirates, who also turned out to be illegal traders, returned a week later and local villagers called the police to question them.

"The pirates were upset about that and were accusing me of getting them into trouble," Mr Hand said.

As nothing could be proven, the police eventually left and the pirates walked the opposite way along the beach.

However, the pirates soon turned, armed themselves with timber debris and started running towards Mr Hand, who ran around a corner and jumped over a log to try to escape.

"That stalled a couple of them but one guy hit me with a branch over the shoulder and another guy hit me over the back," he said.

"Another guy cut me off and took a swing at me, but I ran straight over the top of him. There was no doubt they were going to kill me."

Mr Hand reached a hut where villagers gathered and eventually got the pirates to disperse.

The Australian adventurer escaped with bruises on his shoulder and back.

The incident has not turned Mr Hand off and he plans to return to PNG soon.

 

Pirates

  • East and West Africa are the worst affected areas, with 150 attacks in 2012.
  • Pirates attacked 297 ships worldwide last year.
  • Pirates took 505 people hostage and killed six people in 2012.
  • There were almost twice as many pirate attacks in 2011.

Topics:  attack, bashing, indonesia, papua new guinea, pirates


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