An American family found days after an alleged pirate attack on a merchant ship in Brazil told authorities that while they weren’t kidnapped, they were held hostage by the river pirates for several hours, according to police.
The family of four from California — Adam Harris Harteau, his wife, Emily Faith Harteau, and their two children — were aboard a merchant ship traveling from the city of Belem to Macapa when the vessel was attacked by pirates on Sunday, according to police. The family was found Wednesday in Vila Curumu in the state of Para in Brazil, police said.
Today, police in Brazil told reporters that the Harteaus told them after the heavily armed pirates attacked, the family was held in one of the ship’s rooms for several hours — from 3:30 p.m. to midnight — during which they heard the pirates coming on and off the boat, apparently offloading the ship’s goods.
Police said the Harteaus told them they feared trying to leave the room because they could still hear the pirates, but they could tell the boat was still moving. The Harteaus told police they were threatened during this period.
The parents told police that around 1 a.m., they decided to escape because they feared the boat was nearing land and they worried the local villagers were colluding with their attackers. The parents said they escaped by swimming away, with their children on a surfboard and the parents in the water, police said.
The family’s account of the escape was not clear, according to police.
The Harteaus then hid for about 72 hours; police said the family told them they survived by eating insects and fruits in the forest. The parents told police they only left their hiding spot when they heard a police boat trying to rescue them.
Earlier this week, police told ABC news that man from Vila Curumu rescued the family with help of villagers after seeing the family in the river.
ABC News’ Kirit Radia contributed to this report.