The families of the seven missing Taiwanese businessmen in Madagascar called off the aerial search effort yesterday after one Malagasy search crew member died and another was injured on duty, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The families are offering a NT$100,000 (US$3,200) reward for locals who find any of the men alive and NT$20,000 if any are found dead. The figure is an astronomical amount for a country where the average daily income is less than US$0.40.
The ministry did not say who would pay the bills of the search mission that reportedly cost up to several thousand US dollars each hour and lasted nearly six days.
MOFA Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said the families of the victims had agreed to call off the aerial search mission because of persistent inclement weather.
A search team commissioned by Madagascar would continue until Antananarivo decided to terminate the efforts, Chen said, adding that MOFA has expressed condolences to the families of the Malagasy men who died and were injured on duty.
The two life vests found in the ocean by a fishing boat would be sent to Antananarivo to be verified if they were worn by any of missing men prior to their disappearance, Chen said, adding that the two representatives from the family and the two MOFA personnel would also leave St. Marie, the island where the boat apparently capsized last Friday.
The seven missing Taiwanese businessmen were on a commercial fishing grounds inspection trip along with one other Taiwanese national, Liu Shou-chih (劉守智), and a Chinese businessman, Li Bo (李波).
The bodies of Liu and Li were retrieved on Monday about 18km away from where the fishing boat apparently capsized. One Malagasy technician and a cook were successfully rescued but MOFA has been barred from questioning them.
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