Taipei, Three more Vietnamese tourists out of 148 who disappeared after entering Taiwan this month have been found as authorities continue their search, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Monday.
The NIA did not provide any specific details on the three, other than to say they brought to 23 the number of the 148 missing tourists accounted for as of 5 p.m. Monday.
Of the 23, nine were male and 14 were female and 14 were caught by law enforcement authorities while nine turned themselves in voluntarily, the NIA said. Of the 125 Vietnamese nationals who are still missing, 89 are male and 36 are female.
The 148 tourists who disappeared arrived in Taiwan in four tour groups on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23. According to Vietnamese media VnExpress on Dec. 29, some of the Vietnamese on the tours said they spent between NT$20,000 (US$655) and NT$70,000 to take part in a tour to Taiwan, before they “disappeared” with the help of friends.
Other members in the group said they fled the tours hoping to stay in Taiwan to work illegally, VnExpress said.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism has said the missing tourists took advantage of simplified visa procedures used for special electronic visas to work illegally in Taiwan, the VnExpress said.
The visas were issued under a program launched in 2015 to foster closer ties between Taiwan and selected nations and later incorporated into Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy designed to strengthen ties with Southeast Asia.
NIA head Chiu Feng-kuang said late last week that crime syndicates were likely behind the mass disappearance of the Vietnamese nationals because those who have been located said they had been assisted to meet “contacts” in southern, central and northern Taiwan.
The agency also called on the remaining Vietnamese who left their tour groups to turn themselves in to police, while pledging to protect their basic human rights.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel