Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Funding for Madagascar search stopped: MOFA

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday it would stop funding the search for seven Taiwanese businessmen missing in waters off Madagascar since July 11.

The cost to taxpayers was about US$10,000 a day for the 10-day search, said Andrew Chang (張雲屏), head of the Department of African Affairs. The ministry would continue to provide assistance to the men’s families should they file a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the accident, he said.

Asked if the ministry had set procedures on when to cut off funding search operations for missing Taiwanese, Chang said no.

“But it would be unreasonable for the families to demand that the ministry continue to pay for the mission,” he said.

Chang said ministry personnel had devoted 200 hours of overtime to helping to find men.

The key question about the accident was why the Malagasy fishing official aboard the boat had allowed the vessel to head out to sea in inclement weather, he said.

“We have information that the fishing official gave the order to set sail. We are trying to determine why he would allow this when the weather was so bad,” Chang said.

Eight Taiwanese, one Chinese, the Malagasy official and three Malagasy crewmembers were on board when the boat capsized. The cook and another crewmember survived.

Only the bodies of Taiwanese Liu Shou-chih (劉守智) and his Chinese domestic worker, Li Po (李波), have been recovered so far.

The men were on a commercial fishing inspection.

Families of the victims have met Chinese embassy officials in Madagascar’s capital to thank Beijing for its help in the search.

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