298 SAR people 'yet to contact relatives'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 September, 1999, 12:00am

At least 298 Hong Kong people in Taiwan have yet to contact relatives and friends at home since the earthquake struck, according to relief agency figures.

Up to yesterday, the Hong Kong Red Cross had received 1,175 inquiries from SAR residents seeking help in tracing people. So far, only 764 people had made contact with Hong Kong.

The Red Cross said it was processing 298 cases while seeking more information on 113 cases. Spokesman Enkas Chau said it was likely Hong Kong people could not be reached because of poor communications.

'Most of the cases that we are now processing are in remote areas where the communications network has yet to be established,' he said.

'Some of the victims are staying at temporary shelters where they cannot be located by their Hong Kong relatives.' No Hong Kong people had turned up on the official death list.

Deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Red Cross Patrick Hsu accused the Hong Kong branch of not screening requests for help before referring them to the island.

'Some information provided by the Hong Kong side is not correct and there was no such person when we finally managed to get a telephone line through,' he said.

The lack of co-ordination had resulted in an unnecessary workload for the Taiwan Red Cross.

But it would continue to try to contact people on the list from Hong Kong, he said.

A Taiwan government spokesman said the figure from Hong Kong was misleading.

'I do not know how they came up with the figure but it is just impossible,' he said. 'As far as we know, all Hong Kong people are safe and unhurt.' Seven foreigners have been confirmed dead, including one American and one Japanese.

The Hong Kong Red Cross has raised $4.13 million to help victims. TVB has raised $40 million.

Taiwan's spokesman in Hong Kong, managing director of the Chung Hwa Travel Service Cheng An-Kuo, said the organisation had received $50 million in donations.

The SAR Government had given $5.6 million to help victims, Xinhua said.