Eleven quake-stranded Taiwan tourists rescued


CHENGDU, May 18 (Xinhua) — Eleven of the 14 elderly Taiwan tourists stranded for almost six days in quake-hit Sichuan on Sunday arrived at the provincial capital of Chengdu aboard a military helicopter.

The tourists, including five aged around 75, arrived at a military airport here at 12:30 p.m., appearing very weak, but with no serious problems.

The group sought shelter in Qipangou Village close to the epicenter of Wenchuan County after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Monday, but lost contact with their tour agencies.

Villagers and the local government had taken good care of all the tourists, with an average age of 65, providing food and accommodation, said rescuers.

The helicopter was flying back to the village and is expected to take the remaining three tourists to Chengdu in the afternoon.

An official with the Taiwan tourist association said all the 14would stay in Chengdu for a couple of days under medical observation before returning to Taiwan.

They would be sent to a local hospital if necessary, the official said.

Two helicopters took off Saturday noon from Chengdu to transport the tourists after their location was discovered. But bad weather forced the pilots to call off the mission.

The group, with a Taiwan-based travel agency named “Auspicious Crane”, arrived in Chengdu on May 9 and was traveling from Maoxian county to Wenchuan when the devastating quake took place on Monday.

They were reported as the last group of overseas tourists still stranded in the quake-hit area, according to China National Tourism Administration.

Some 700 other Taiwanese, stranded in Chengdu and Chongqing Municipality since the quake, returned to the island Friday and Saturday on four chartered flights.