Search for 2 missing S’poreans in Hualien quake continues; family cancels plans to travel to Taiwan, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Search for 2 missing S’poreans in Hualien quake continues; family cancels plans to travel to Taiwan

Volunteers in Taiwan are seeking more information about a Singaporean couple who went missing after the April 3 earthquake, to help with the search and rescue mission.

In a post on April 5 in the Facebook group Hualien Earthquake Relief Information, group administrator Sunny Sandro Wang said he was urgently looking to connect with friends and family members of the couple, Neo Siew Choo and Sim Hwee Kok.

“We hope to find their social media accounts, so that we can find out their last messages and possible locations through photos,” said Mr Wang, who is volunteering with earthquake relief efforts.

“We need a recent photo of them, and if we can get an understanding of their backgrounds and abilities, it will help rescuers on the scene determine where they might have moved to, or any judgment they could have made.”

In an update on April 6, Mr Wang shared that he had managed to contact the sister of the man, and is working with her to find out more about the couple’s possible whereabouts during the earthquake. “If you have seen the (couple) somewhere, please quickly let us know the time and date,” said Mr Wang.

In a statement on April 6, Taiwan’s Immigration Agency said that the two Singaporeans, who reportedly carry Australian passports, are a couple, and that the authorities are in contact with their families. Two family members were expected to fly to Taiwan on the same day.

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Posted by Sunny Sandro Wang on Friday, April 5, 2024

In an update on the afternoon of April 6, the agency said the family members had temporarily cancelled their plans to travel to Taiwan, as they needed to care for their elderly parents. They told the agency of their wishes to be kept updated about the missing couple.

According to the Taiwan authorities, the couple had boarded Taroko Gorge tour bus 310 at around 6.30am on April 3.

The bus reached the destination, Tianxiang station, at 8am, but the couple alighted halfway through the journey. It is unclear where they had alighted, said the authorities.

The bus and its driver are currently still stuck in Tianxiang. As communication services are not working, the authorities are unable to retrieve the in-vehicle video recording.

The Hualien County Police Department is continuing to search for them by using mobile phone Global Positioning System tracking, but has been unsuccessful so far.

The authorities said they will continue to try and get in touch with the bus driver, and use the recording to find out where the couple alighted, so as to help with the search and rescue operations.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on April 5 that the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei is in close touch with the local authorities on the matter, and its officials have been in contact with the next of kin and are providing consular assistance. 

The Straits Times has contacted Mr Wang for more information.