Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Foreign minister still in Sao Tome due to accident


Foreign Affairs Minister James Huang (黃志芳) and his entourage were forced to stay in Sao Tome, capital of the West African state of Sao Tome and Principe, after their chartered plane was hit by the Gabonese Republic president's special airliner on Thursday.

Huang was scheduled to leave Sao Tome to return home after attending a celebration on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to mark Sao Tome and Principe's 32nd anniversary of independence.

But the chartered Boeing 737 carrying Huang and his entourage was hit by the tail fin of the Gabonese president's propeller plane at Sao Tome airport.

The Taiwanese delegation said it was "surprised" when the Gabonese president's airliner took off from the narrow runway after it hit the Taiwanese delegation's plane, without stopping to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the collision.

As the plane's wing sustained a 7cm-diameter hole, the owner of the plane suggested out of safety concerns that Huang's delegation stay in Sao Tome and Principe to await the arrival of another plane to take them home.

Huang arrived in Sao Tome on Wednesday on the last leg of an African diplomatic tour that also took him to Taiwan's four other allies on the continent -- Malawi, Swaziland, Gambia and Burkina Faso.

In addition to attending the country's independence anniversary celebrations, Huang also joined Sao Tome and Principe President Fradique de Menezes in presiding over an inaugural ceremony for a marketplace that can accommodate 250 stalls, which was built with funds donated by Taiwan.

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