Wed, Feb 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Harbor's closure strands tourists in links 'hub' Kinmen

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taichung and Matsu airports were paralyzed by fog yesterday morning but operated smoothly in the afternoon, ensuring that no passengers would be stranded on Lunar New Year's Eve, except for some unlucky souls in Kinmen.

Taichung Airport closed yesterday morning because of heavy fog, but reopened at 10:30am.

Delayed flights affected more than 100 passengers scheduled to fly to Kinmen for transfer to Xiamen via ferry. Because Kinmen Harbor is closed for the holiday, the unlucky passengers are being forced to wait until Friday before they can leave for China.

Nankan and Peikan airports in Matsu closed yesterday morning because of heavy fog, but they reopened after 1pm. Matsu Airport officials warmed heavy fog was likely to affect outlying islands over the next few days.

Matsu-bound passengers were instead able to board ferries departing from Keelung.

CKS International Airport operated steadily yesterday, although some flights in the morning were delayed for about an hour, airport deputy director Liu Chuang-sheng (劉創生) said.

The number of passengers taking advantage of the "small three links" -- or boat links between Kinmen and Xiamen -- has reached a record high since the arrangement was given the green light in 2001. A total of 1,992 passengers on Sunday broke the single day record, according to the Kinmen Harbor authorities. More than 90 percent of the passengers were China-based Taiwanese businessmen and their families returning for the Lunar New Year holiday.

A total of more than 16,000 passengers have traveled between Kinmen and Xiamen since Jan. 29, also a new high, harbor authorities said, adding that passenger demand for the direct service was not affected by special charter flights to and from China.

Back on the mainland, road and rail users yesterday enjoyed a relatively smooth ride.

However, Ministry of Trans-portation and Communications officials are expecting significant road congestion from tomorrow until Saturday.

All services from Taipei and Kaohsiung railway stations ran smoothly yesterday.

The Central Weather Bureau has maintained a fog warning for all of western Taiwan.

It said that fog and mist are likely to continue to cover this area through the Lunar New Year holiday.

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