THE Hong Kong captain of a supertanker involved in a collision in the Gulf criticised authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday for detaining him without charge and keeping him from his family for a 'painful' eight months. Captain Terry Lau Chung-hui, 45, said from the port city of Dubai he had generally been treated well by UAE investigators probing the cause of the March 30 accident that caused thousands of tonnes of oil to spill into the Gulf of Oman. He said, however, he had been interrogated at length about 20 times and had been shuttled back and forth to the capital Abu Dhabi. 'It is very frustrating and I am very nervous about everything,' an emotional Captain Lau said in a telephone interview from his hotel room. 'I have been kept here for so long and I did not do anything wrong. I don't know why the investigation is taking forever. 'I am very depressed because it is so boring here. They have taken my passport away so I cannot leave the country. 'I am allowed to go anywhere outside the hotel. But all I do is watch television all day. It is horrible and very painful. 'I want to be with my family. I feel so helpless because my wife and my children moved to the UK at the end of August and, because I am stuck here, I could not help them.' Captain Lau was detained after the Panamanian-registered tanker he was piloting, the 293,238-tonne Seki managed by World-Wide Shipping Agency, was struck at a 90-degree angle by the UAE-registered Baynunah. The accident, near the Emirate of Fujairah, damaged the Seki's cargo hold and caused it to spill almost 16,000 tonnes of oil onto the Fujairah coastline. Civil proceedings are in progress between the two tanker owners, and UAE authorities last week completed their investigations into possible criminal charges against the ships' masters. Captain Lau, a permanent Hong Kong resident and a full British passport-holder, said he had been told the investigation was complete but had been given no indication when a decision on his release might be made. World-Wide, one of the world's largest tanker companies, flew out Captain Lau's wife, Sabina Tan, to be with him for three weeks in October. But he has not seen his two daughters, aged 11 and 17, for more than a year. 'I am so anxious to go home and be with them,' he said. 'I have tried to tell them [the UAE investigators] that I am willing to come back any time if they need me, as long as they let me go to be with my wife and children. But they never listen. It is not humane to keep me here.' Yesterday, the South China Morning Post reported that the British Foreign Office had been asked by the Hong Kong Government to make an appeal to UAE rulers on Captain Lau's behalf.