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Nigeria oil hostage 'gravely ill'

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Patrick Landry in an undated photo.

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(CNN) -- The family and company of an American oil worker in captivity in Nigeria have said they are worried about his health, following reports from his kidnappers that he is gravely ill and could die.

Patrick Landry, a 61-year-old resident of Houston, Texas, was one of four hostages abducted by gunmen off the coast of Nigeria and taken captive on January 11.

The kidnappers called Reuters news agency early Thursday to say Landry was ill and could die.

According to Reuters, the hostages spoke of deteriorating conditions. Then, one of the kidnappers got on the phone and said Landry was seriously ill -- and the other three men in custody would be killed if he died.

Landry suffers from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, his son, Dwight Landry, told CNN.

He added that he was concerned his father did not have enough medication with him.

"His health is not good and we're just really, really concerned with his life at this point," Dwight Landry said. "We love him, we're praying for him and we're doing everything we can to get him home as soon as we can."

Steve Dick, Tidewater executive vice president, told CNN that his company was working with Shell Oil executives, Nigerian authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to begin a dialogue with the kidnappers to secure the release of the hostages.

"This is the highest priority for us, and Shell has assured us their release is the highest priority for them as well," Dick said.

Landry, a vessel captain for Shell contractor Tidewater, was making a daily run in his ship to an offshore oil rig along with his crew -- a Bulgarian, a Honduran and a British Shell employee -- when three speedboats carrying militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons approached, his son said.

The U.S. government, Tidewater and Landry's family learned about the kidnapping through Reuters, which first received a phone call Monday from the hostages, who read their captor's demands.

The abductors, members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, demanded the release of two of their leaders and greater local control over the region's vast oil resources.

Landry has worked for Tidewater for more than 30 years, in a job that has taken him across the globe, according to his son. He said his father had been in Nigeria for about six weeks at the time of the kidnapping.

U.S. State Department officials said oil-related kidnappings of Westerners had become a frequent occurrence in recent months.

CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott and News Editor Wayne Drash contributed to this report

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