Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Tourists found after earthquake returning home

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The 14 Taiwanese tourists who were found in China’s Sichuan Province on Saturday are scheduled to return to Taiwan this evening, the Taiwan Travel Agent Association (TAA) said yesterday.

TAA chairman Yao Ta-kuang (姚大光) said the Chinese government had dispatched a helicopter to pick up the tourists at Chipan Village, where they have been staying since the earthquake hit Sichaun Province on Monday.

The helicopter took off at 10:30am yesterday and arrived at Chengdu at 12pm with 11 Taiwanese on board. As of press time, three Taiwanese remained in the village because the helicopter had difficulty landing.

Officials from the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait and the China National Tourism Administration were also on board to greet the Taiwanese tourists, Yao said.

Yao said that 11 tourists had had meals and health examinations after they arrived in Chengdu. They would also spend the night in Chengdu before returning home, he said.

Yao said the tourists could arrive in Taipei today at 8:20pm.

Meanwhile, Yao softened his criticism of 74 MassMutual Mercuries Life (MMML, 三商美邦人壽), which insisted on continuing the unfinished tour after the earthquake.

Some MMML employees called the media in Taiwan and complained that the travel agency had put them in a hotel with no water and food.

“I am sure whatever they said was nothing more than emotional statements,” he said, “They were inside Jiuzhaigou and didn’t know that the world outside had changed.”

Yao said they would hold a ceremony in honor of the tour guides who helped Taiwanese tourists evacuate from the earthquake-stricken areas.

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