19 Chinese tourists remain unaccounted for in Taiwan


Taipei – Family members of 19 Chinese tourists from China’s Guangdong Province who remained unaccounted for Sunday are expected to arrive in Taiwan Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a travel agency source.

The Guangdong tourist group, hosted by Taipei-based Harula Tour, was supposed to have left for home Friday, according to Wu Chao-ping, a Harula Tour manager.

The tour bus carrying the 19 tourists was believed to have been traveling north on the Suhua Highway — a scenic cliff-edge highway on Taiwan’s eastern coast that connects Yilan and Hualien counties — when heavy rain and rockslides caused several sections of the highway to collapse.

Five officials from China Travel Service’s Gongbei branch, which organized the tourist group, flew into Taiwan Saturday in the aftermath of the disaster triggered by Typhoon Megi.

Seven city officials from Guangdong’s Zhuhai City were also scheduled to arrive in Taiwan by nightfall Sunday to provide assistance. Of the 19 missing Chinese tourists, eight are officials working with the Gongbei Land Taxation Bureau in Zhuhai, according to the Taiwan Association of Travel Agents.

Meanwhile that day, three high-ranking officials from the Beijing-based Cross Strait Tourism Association (CSTA), departed from Beijing for Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau said it will assist the families by streamlining the visa-issuing process for them.

In related news, a Taiwanese bus driver and a Chinese tour group leader from another tour bus, belonging to the Taipei-based Hong Tai Travel Co., were also missing. Pieces of the tour bus were located buried beneath heaps of debris and it was believed the tour guide and driver might have been thrown from the vehicle when it tumbled into a ravine. The tourists in the group managed to get off the bus in time.

Three family members of the missing Chinese tour group leader, identified as Tian Yuan, also arrived in Taiwan Saturday.

Typhoon Megi wreaked havoc across Taiwan Oct. 21-22, dumping more than 1,200 mm of continuous rainfall in 48 hours, mostly on northeastern parts of the island.