Mon, May 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Officials say 16 foreigners were aboard ill-fated flight

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

There were 16 foreign passengers on flight CI611 when it crashed into the sea off Penghu on Saturday with 206 passengers on board, a China Airlines (CAL) official said yesterday.

Nine were from China and five from Hong Kong. One Singaporean and one Swiss were also on board, according to officials from CAL and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海基會). Seven of the 16 were men, the rest women and all adults.

The SEF sent a letter with a name list of the nine Chinese victims to its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS, 海協會), yesterday morning.

In the letter, the SEF told the ARATS that if the families of the Chinese victims wish to travel to Taiwan, the SEF will assist them in doing so.

The SEF yesterday also asked ARATS to notify Chinese fishing boats sailing in the Taiwan Strait to help search-and-rescue efforts.

"Please notify the SEF if your fishing vessels discover anything in the sea," the letter said.

Due to the possibility that debris or bodies from the craft might drift across the middle line of the Taiwan Strait and enter Chinese territorial waters, the SEF also notified the Chinese side that it might need to cross the line to search for survivors or collect debris.

Ministry of Transportation and Communications Administrative Vice Minister Tsai Duei (蔡堆) said yesterday afternoon in a news briefing that political considerations would not impact search-and-rescue efforts.

"There is no so-called `mid-point of the Strait problem' when it comes to humanitarian concerns," Tsai said. He added that all of the rescuers involved are doing their best in the hopes of finding survivors. At 3pm yesterday China sent two tugboats to assist in search-and-rescue efforts in the western area of the Strait.

Meanwhile, more than 20 relatives of the Hong Kong passengers on board arrived in Taiwan late Saturday.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) expressed his sorrow Saturday night.

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