Jiuzhaigou quake: S'pore tourists safely evacuated

More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, famed for its romantic lakes and waterfalls. The earthquake damaged highways and buildings, and triggered landslides.
More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, famed for its romantic lakes and waterfalls. The earthquake damaged highways and buildings, and triggered landslides.PHOTO: REUTERS

S'pore's MFA says all who registered online are safe, at least eight tourists among 20 dead

The death toll from Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake in the south-west Sichuan province of China has risen to 20, with 431 injured, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

The earthquake's epicentre was near the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve, a popular destination for tourists, including Singaporeans, though Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that all those in the area who had registered online are safe.

More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from the Unesco World Heritage Site, famed for its lakes and waterfalls.

At least eight tourists died as a result of the earthquake, which damaged highways and buildings, and triggered landslides.

At least two groups of Singapore travellers who were in Jiuzhaigou when the quake occurred have made it out unhurt.

Tour agency Chan Brothers told The Straits Times yesterday that a group of 20 left on board a coach to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. They arrived in the city yesterday evening.

They are scheduled to return from Chengdu on Sunday.

A Chan Brothers spokesman said: "We will speak with them and ascertain if they wish to continue their tour or return to Singapore earlier."

The agency said it was offering alternative itineraries to people who have booked trips to Jiuzhaigou, including one group that is slated to leave Singapore tomorrow.

Travellers can, for instance, choose a Chengdu itinerary that excludes Jiuzhai Valley, tour a different part of China, or postpone their tours to a later date.

The spokesman said: "Requests from customers who wish to cancel their tours will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the respective airlines."

She added that the tour agency is closely monitoring the situation by staying in touch with local operators.

Another group of 16 on a Jiuzhaigou tour organised by Dynasty Travel arrived in Chengdu from Jiuzhaigou by coach on Wednesday night.

Dynasty Travel's director of public relations and communications Alicia Seah said the tour agency is closely monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of its customers who are continuing their tour in the region.

"These scenic spots include Leshan, Mount Emei and Hailuogou, which are not affected by the earthquake," she added.

Ms Seah said the Jiuzhaigou area is now closed to visitors.

The itinerary for tour groups leaving Singapore later this month will be amended if the Jiuzhaigou tourist spot is not opened by then, she said.

Sichuan is quake-prone. In 2008, a massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake there killed almost 70,000 people.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2017, with the headline 'Jiuzhaigou quake: S'pore tourists safely evacuated'. Print Edition | Subscribe