Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese businesspeople, tourists missing in China

By Jenny W. Hsu and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH CNA

Some Taiwanese businesspeople living in China's Sichuan Province had yet to be reached yesterday following a 7.9 magnitude quake which hit the province.

A total of 82 Taiwanese tourists were still missing at press time last night.

The Travel Agent Association (TAA) told a press conference last night that it was still trying to contact 82 Taiwanese tourists whom it had not been able to reach by telephone since the earthquake struck.

These tourists were on a package tour to Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝, one of the famous tourist attractions in Sichuan.

Earlier, it had said that 14 tourists were traveling around Maoshien, a city near the epicenter in Wenchuan, while another 94 tourists were near Chiangyo and Pingwu, two cities east of Wenchuan.

The number did not include those who traveled on their own.

The TAA said at least 2,360 Taiwanese tourists had been traveling in Sichuan when the earthquake occurred.

Many of the tourists could not be contacted because of the breakdown of communication and transportation networks in the province.

TAA chairman Yao Ta-kuang (姚大光 said the association has dispatched three representatives to Sichuan and would form an emergency taskforce to help arrange return trips for the tour groups.

Yao also said air traffic in Jiuzhaigou was blocked and that the association could dispatch humanitarian charter flights to the airport in Jiuzhaigou once it is able to help bring the tourists back.

There were 2,897 Taiwanese tourists still in Sichuan, according to a press release issued by the TAA yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, the Mainland Council Affairs (MAC) said at a separate press conference yesterday afternoon that the only Taiwanese casualty so far was Chu Shao-wei (朱紹維, a four-year-old boy who died when a house in Mianzhu City was flattened.

MAC Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通 said both of the boy's parents were in Taiwan and that the government was helping the father return to Mianzhu as soon as possible.

Another four year-old Taiwanese girl, Yu Chia-rong (余佳蓉, is missing. Her father, Yu Da-jun (余大軍, has sought the help of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to establish contact with her and her parents-in-law.

So far, the MAC and SEF do not have a figure on Taiwanese students in China.

Meanwhile, citing preliminary information acquired by the semi-official Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, Yeh Ming-shui (葉明水, deputy secretary-general of TAITRA, yesterday said some Taiwan businesspeople, particularly those near Wenchuan, the epicenter of the tremor located some 100km from Chengdu, remained unreachable.

TAITRA is the only agency affiliated with the government which has personnel stationed in Chengdu.

Yeh said there are more than 600 Taiwanese companies in Sichuan, including offices and stores of prominent conglomerates, such as the Sogo Pacific Department Store and Giant bicycles.

A representative of the Taiwanese businessmen's association in Chengdu said yesterday that most members of the association had been accounted for and were safe and sound.

Speaking by telephone with the Central News Agency, a representative of the association surnamed Lee said that it began contacting members at midnight last night after the telephone service resumed.

Lee said most members of the association had been contacted by 11am yesterday, with none of them reporting any injuries. Lee said that the association's 6th floor office in Chengdu suffered only minor damage in the earthquake and said that many members of the association had begun to make preparations to assist in relief efforts.

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