Sun, Oct 23, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese tour groups reported safe in Thailand

Staff Writer, with CNA

More than 1,200 Taiwanese tourists in Thailand were reported safe, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday, one day after a travel alert for the flood-stricken country was raised to the highest “red” level.

Of the 61 tour groups currently traveling in Thailand, nine groups of 180 people were scheduled to return to Taiwan yesterday, while the remaining 52 groups of 1,040 people would continue with their itinerary, the bureau said.

“Fortunately, most Taiwanese visitors were not in flood-affected areas,” bureau division deputy director Chen Chiung-hua (陳瓊華) said. “We strongly warn against non-essential trips to Thailand at this time.”

On Thursday, the Thai government opened 13 flood gates and channeled the water through Bangkok to divert it out to sea.

The release of the water was expected to submerge part of the capital, cause power shortages and cut the water supply, resulting in problems with accommodation, transportation, the food supply and public hygiene, a statement released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.

As a result, Lion Travel Service Co, a major local travel agency, said all its Thailand-bound tours would be suspended before Tuesday. However, as its 33 tour groups of more than 400 Taiwanese tourists currently in Thailand would not necessarily visit Bangkok or stay there only briefly, the agency said no changes would be made to the itineraries of those groups.

Thailand is suffering from its worst monsoon floods in decades, resulting in more than 340 deaths and economic losses of at least US$6 billion since July.

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