Taiwanese tourists perish in two boating accidents

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 04, 2012 - Page 1

Three Taiwanese tourists died in a boating accident in Boracay, the Philippines, yesterday afternoon as another boating incident occurred in Halong Bay, Vietnam, around the same time, killing five Taiwanese tourists, the Tourism Bureau said.

The victims of the Boracay accident were identified as Lai Yu-mei (賴玉妹), 69; Chang Ai-ling (張愛玲), 48; and Chen Su-ching (陳思晴), 2, the bureau said. Lai and Chang were mother and daughter, while Chen’s parents were also on board, it added.

Philippine coast guard official Ronnie Hiponia said the remaining 27 Taiwanese tourists were rescued by passing boats 550m off Boracay.

Hiponia said the tourists were island-hopping when their boat was hit by strong winds and heavy rains, causing it to capsize. Authorities are investigating if the boat was overloaded, he added.

According to Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau Planning and Research Division director Yang Yeong-sheng (楊永盛), the tourists were independent travelers who booked hotels and tickets via Taiwan’s Beaufort Travel Service (百福旅行社). Since they are independent travelers, the travel agency is not obligated to dispatch a travel agent to accompany them, Yang said.

Nevertheless, the travel agency said it would still help the families.

Meanwhile, the victims of the accident in Vietnam were identified as Chen Yi-chiu (陳義久), 69; Lee Hui-jen (李蕙真), 36; Huang Fong-chin (黃鳳琴), 58; Huang Hsuan-chi (黃宣綺), 9; and Kung Fang-ju (龔芳如), 34.

The bureau said the tourists were employees and family members of a company in Greater Kaohsiung. The tour was organized by Life Tour (五福旅行社). The group left Taiwan on Tuesday and was scheduled to return tomorrow.

The travelers were accompanied by a certified foreign-language tour guide, the bureau added.

According to the bureau, the accident happened around 4pm or 5pm when the group returned from a tour of some small islands. While they were waiting to transfer from the small boat to a bigger one, their boats was hit by another vessel, which was also carrying tourists.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) last night said the ministry has dispatched staff at the overseas missions in Vietnam and the Philippines to understand the causes of the incidents and to help the victims’ families.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and AP