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Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 08:52

20 HKers yet to be contacted

By Luis Liu in Hong Kong
20 HKers yet to be contacted
A woman carries a child next to collapsed houses in Bhaktapur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, on April 27, 2015, two days after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. (AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA)

Twenty Hong Kong people have still not been contacted in Nepal after the Immigration Department (IMMD) received 41 requests for assistance up to Monday night.

In another 21 cases the people were found safe, an IMMD spokesperson said. More than 10 Hong Kong tourists would return home this morning (Tuesday), a government source said.

The source said there was a large rise in the number of people who could not be contacted mainly because more relatives were aware of the IMMD’s searching service after it sent three staff to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to look for missing Hong Kong hikers and visitors.

They left Hong Kong at 5:30 pm on Monday. Before that, the number of requests for assistance was 24 — five of these people have been reported missing.

The delegation will work closely with the Chinese embassy, local hospitals and rescue teams in Nepal. They are trying to resume contact with the missing Hong Kong residents. It will also talk to air carriers and arrange return trips for those stuck at the airport, according to the IMMD.

As aftershocks have been constantly hitting the area, some who were able to be contacted may not be heard due to signal or Internet problems. This also contributed to the rise in the number of cases, the source explained.

IMMD also received more than 50 inquiries from Hong Kong tourists at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. Many already had seats on the plane back to Hong Kong with the help of the IMMD.

The department also advised Hong Kong tourists to consider mainland airlines so they can leave Nepal sooner. It will also assist those who do not have Home Return Permits with them.

Meanwhile, the government had raised the Outbound Travel Alert for Nepal to red. Hong Kong residents who plan to visit Nepal should adjust their schedules and avoid non-essential travel. This included leisure travel, the government said.

Usually this will mean compensation by insurance companies to travelers changing their schedules. But insurance companies may refuse to settle any claims for people going to Nepal and disregarding the alert.

Local social workers have already offered to help. Hong Kong Community Network will send staff to Nepal with colleagues from another group Social Workers Across Borders.

Hong Kong Red Cross said it had contributed HK$500,000 to aid work.

Local air carrier Dragonair operates flights to and from Hong Kong-Dhaka-Kathmandu from Monday on. The airline said would provide necessary assistance to passengers. It said it can “100 percent guarantee” services to people wanting to return to Hong Kong.

Rebooking, rerouting, cancellation and refund charges will be waived for tickets issued for Cathay Pacific-Dragonair confirmed bookings, involving Kathmandu, between April 25 and May 31, a Dragonair spokesperson said.

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