Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Tourists in Nepal cause anxiety

STILL THERE About 200 Taiwan trippers are still in the Himalayan kingdom and relatives are concerned in the wake of the declaration of a state of emergency

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Nearly 200 Taiwanese tourists remain in Nepal three days after Nepal's King Gyanendra dismissed the country's government and declared a state of emergency, the Travel Agent Association of ROC, Taiwan (TAAT), said yesterday.

Roger Hsu (許高慶), secretary general of the association, said three tour groups returned from Nepal to Taiwan yesterday.

"According to the returning tourists' description, the situation in Nepal has remained peaceful," he said.

There were 12 Taiwanese tour groups traveling in Nepal when the king sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and assumed power himself on Tuesday, Hsu said.

"Armed soldiers were guarding most of the roads in Nepal's main cities and checking all passing vehicles, but they did not bother foreign tourists," a returning tourist told reporters at CKS International Airport yesterday.

Another tourist said that that his tour group met other Taiwanese tourists in Nepal.

"They said they wanted to continue their itinerary as originally planned if the situation allowed," he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel warning for Nepal Wednesday, advising against all but essential travel to the country. The other four countries ministry advises against traveling to are Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia and Ivory Coast.

"Based on the information we have gathered so far, it seems no major violence has taken place in Nepal," said ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) at a press conference.

Taiwan has no representative office in Nepal. "We have instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in New Delhi to send an official to Kathmandu to assess the situation there and offer help for our tourists," Lu said.

The official flew from New Delhi to Kathmandu yesterday.

"He will rent a mobile phone there and stay in a local hotel for a while. His mobile phone number will be provided to the public for enquiries shortly," Lu said.

The New Delhi office has contacted the US and Japanese embassies in India for assistance in gathering information in Nepal. The ministry said in a statement that it would do everything necessary to evacuate Taiwanese tourists from Nepal.

Lu said the ministry is still unclear about the exact number of Taiwanese tourists remaining in Nepal because it is not sure how many individual tourists have traveled to the country.

In Kaohsiung, anxious families of 12 trekkers traveling to Nepal appealed for help from the Kaohsiung Association of Travel Agents (KATA) yesterday after all efforts to contact them failed.

"The team planned to climb the Himalayas. Their families said they were originally scheduled to return to Taiwan more than 10 days from now. As all phone lines and Internet links from Nepal have been cut, they could not contact anyone in the team," said Lin Shang-chih (林尚志), general director of KATA.

"The only way we can know about what happened in Nepal is to ask returning tourists," Lin said.

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