Matsu EasyCards available
Taipei EasyCard Corp has cooperated with Taipei’s Songshan Ciyou Temple to issue 5,000 EasyCards that were “blessed” by Matsu, the goddess of sea worshiped in the temple, as an effort to extend the card’s popularity. The “Matsu Blessing EasyCard” is a third of the size of a regular EasyCard, and comes with a talisman. The NT$390 EasyCard sets will be available for presale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting today. Corporation director Chang Chia-sheng (張家生) said the Matsu EasyCards are printed with the goddess’ icon, and were placed above the incense burner as a ritual to receive blessing from the deity. According to the temple’s chairman, Chen Yu-feng (陳玉峰), the temple ordered special-edition EasyCards with Matsu’s icon on the cover and has given them to volunteers and students as gifts, and the company later decided to work with the temple in issuing Matsu EasyCards because of the popularity of such cards.
Police seize gold ingots
Police and prosecutors have seized more than US$3.8 million worth of gold ingots in a probe into a money-laundering ring, authorities said yesterday. The ring, run by two men, was accused of recruiting homeless people in central Taiwan to open at least 19 dummy jewelry companies since 2006 to launder money from abroad through the sale of gold, a prosecutor said. Various sizes of gold ingots weighing 64kg in total were seized on Wednesday in one of the biggest cases of its kind, she said. The two men and 26 others were questioned for their alleged role in the money-laundering operations. Media reports said the clients were mainly from China and Hong Kong.
Foreign visitor arrivals soar
Foreign visitor arrivals during the first 10 months of this year surged by 23.2 percent compared with the same period of last year, setting an all-time-high, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday. About 5.94 million foreign visitor arrivals were recorded between January and October, with the volume in October alone posting a year-on-year growth of 15.1 percent to 610,000, the bureau said. The large increase, especially in recent months, could be attributed to an influx of Chinese tourists who visited during China’s Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 National Day holiday, the bureau said. Meanwhile, a recovery in travel exchanges with Japan was seen after tension between the two sides was reduced in the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) earlier this year, the bureau said.
British engineer dies
A British engineer who was in charge of the annual maintenance of the nuclear power plant in Pingtung was found dead near the facility on Wednesday, Pingtung police said. Thomas Edward Foottit, 34, an employee of Alstom, a France-based company that specializes in the manufacture of transport and energy infrastructure, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Based on preliminary investigations, police said Foottit died from head injuries sustained when he fell off a bridge and into a trail by the river not far from the nuclear power plant. Witnesses told police that they saw Foottit walking toward the No. 415 Bridge in Xiaowan at about 3am on Wednesday and he appeared to be drunk. Police said there was a 60cm wide crevice near the bridge and Foottit apparently tripped and fell into the river 12m below.