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Taiwan Resident Loses Life as Tsunamis Sweep Resorts

A Taiwan tourist has been confirmed dead in tsunami-hit Thailand, according to sources in China's Foreign Ministry.

No other casualties involving Chinese citizens have been reported.

Hong Kong Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee said Monday that 18 tourists from the Special Administrative Region are receiving treatment in hospitals on southern Thailand's Phuket Island, but everyone else is apparently safe.

Lee said Hong Kong tourist services have arranged return journeys for more than 1,200 SAR residents who were vacationing in Phuket.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies and consulates in the countries hit by Sunday's devastating tsunamis are taking immediate action to extend assistance to Chinese citizens in the affected areas. The Foreign Ministry set up a hot line (86-10-65963511) Monday for those seeking information about relatives and friends traveling in the areas swept by the tidal waves.

Authorities said Monday that some 1,000 Chinese tourists remained stranded on Phuket and in the Maldives.

The China International Travel Service said that everyone who headed out on the agency's travel packages to Southeast Asia are safe.

Yang Weihong, of China Travel International in Beijing, was quoted as saying the agency is ready to cancel all travel packages to Southeast Asia nations scheduled to set off tomorrow and return fees that have been collected.

China announced that it will offer 21.63 million yuan (US$2.7 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

An Min, vice minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, told the Beijing diplomatic envoys of the disaster-affected countries that the ministry is now preparing to deliver the aid, including cash and relief material such as food and tents.

A tremor measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale jolted southwestern China's Yunnan Province on the same day that the massive earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered the killer tsunamis.

No evidence has been found to suggest the two quakes are related, officials said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2004)

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