Sunday, May 18, 2008


After a good night's rest, the group of Malaysian tourists rescued from a quake-hit zone in south-western Sichuan province flew off to Shanghai on Saturday afternoon enroute home.
The 26 of them, including tour guide Lee Kok Leong, arrived at the Chengdu International Airport, wearing new clothes they bought in the city on Friday night after their dramatic airlift from Maoxian, a small foothill town that was only 30 km from the epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude quake in Wenchuan country.
Clutching nothing more than plastic bags containing the same clothes they had wore for the past five days, the tourists are expected to reach Kuala Lumpur today.
They were taken to a shop for a change of clothing after dinner on Friday night. They were driven to the restaurant from a military airbase after a 30 minute helicopter ride from Maoxian.
They took pictures and chatted with Malaysian Consul-General Ayauf Bachi and Malaysian Embassy first secretary Song Leng Kah while waiting for boarding passes to be sorted out.
But for many of them, tears flowed last night when they watched the destruction and massive loss of lives on television.
"When we were in the helicopter flying out, we looked down and saw a lot of loose sand and dust but we never imagined how bad the quake was until we watched the television. We were so, so lucky," said 50 year old Wong Siew Mooi, who is from Raub.
None of the Malaysians were injured despite half of the group were senior citizens, the oldest being 90 year old Elizabeth Louie Wai Lan, who wore a floral cheongsam and walked unaided into the airport.
Their departure came as news broke that a German tourist was pulled out of a wreckage alive under the rubble of a house in Wenchuan after he was trapped for 114 hours.
A group of another 11 Malaysians, who were stranded in the Jiuzhaigou mountain tourist city, left Chengdu on Friday afternoon. They were flown from Jiuzhaigou to Chongqing on Thursday and took a bus to Chengdu Friday morning - Bernama