Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-24 03:19 PM
Two out of 24 Taiwanese citizens traveling on a bus which slipped off a road in the Zhangzhou area during torrential rain and plunged into the Jiulong River had already been found dead on Friday.
Seven of the Taiwanese tourists, mostly friends from the Hsinchu area, were originally reported missing, presumably swept away by the river.
On Saturday, the search continued for the missing five, with an estimated 2,100 people and 134 boats being mobilized for the rescue effort along the river. During the afternoon, reports emerged that the action had resulted in the discovery of a dead woman, but her identity still had to be determined.
Seven of the 19 injured were released from hospital and were expected to arrive back in Taiwan Saturday evening, reports said, but three others were still listed in serious condition.
Relatives of the victims flew over to Fujian Friday evening and Saturday morning, while officials of the cross-straits tourism body under the Ministry of Transportation flew over from Shanghai to assist the victims.
The bus reportedly dove down a 10-meter-deep embankment through a bamboo forest before coming to rest in the river. A Taiwanese tourist related how he escaped through a broken window. A local fisherman reportedly took a boat along the river and managed to find two of the tourists alive.
The Taiwanese group was on a four-day tour of Fujian Province and was scheduled to return home on Sunday. The dead and missing included four members of one family.
There was criticism in the media of the low prices for the tour. For just under NT$10,000 (US$332), each person not only was able to fly to Xiamen and spend four days in Fujian, but was also allowed to bring one extra person free of charge, reports said.
The group had been planning to visit famous traditional round houses in one area, but torrential rain and reports of flooding and mudslides there had persuaded them to change their itinerary and visit another set of similar buildings.