Previously the British Defense Ministry said it could not rescue Paul and Rachel Chandler on Oct. 23 because the couple was already on the pirates' ship and their yacht abandoned when the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Wave Knight arrived at the scene, The Times of London reported.
But a ministry spokesman confirmed Friday the Wave Knight arrived as the couple was being transferred from their yacht to the pirate's ship 50 feet away. The crew was ordered not to intervene because the pirates were carrying AK-47 assault rifles and there was fear a gun battle would result in the hostages being killed.
The Chandlers were abducted from their yacht in the Indian Ocean as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania. They are being held in a small village north of Mogadishu, Somalia. The pirates are demanding 4 million British pounds ($6.6 million) in ransom.