The remaining three people of the 14 stranded Taiwan tourists in quake-hit Sichuan were expected to arrive at the provincial capital of Chengdu on Monday.
Eleven of the 14 elderly Taiwan tourists, who had been stuck in Qipangou Village close to the epicenter of Wenchuan County after the Monday magnitude 8 earthquake, had arrived at a military airport in Chengdu at Sunday noon aboard a helicopter.
The helicopter flew to the village twice in the afternoon but the remaining three tourists did not show up at the appointed time. Considering the critically injured people aboard, the helicopter had to fly back to Chengdu immediately, said Lin Ping, an official with the Taiwan affairs office of Sichuan.
"We are still in talks with the concerned authority. A helicopter is expected to be sent there."
The group sought shelter in the village after the quake but lost contact with their tour agencies.
Villagers and the local government had taken good care of all the tourists, with an average age of 65, providing food and accommodation, said rescuers.
An official with the Taiwan tourist association said all the 14would stay in Chengdu for a couple of days under medical observation before returning to Taiwan.
They would be sent to a local hospital if necessary, the official said.
Two helicopters took off Saturday noon from Chengdu to transport the tourists after their location was discovered. But bad weather forced the pilots to call off the mission.
The group, with a Taiwan-based travel agency named "Auspicious Crane", arrived in Chengdu on May 9 and was traveling from Maoxian county to Wenchuan when the devastating quake took place on Monday.
They were reported as the last group of tourists outside the Chinese mainland still stranded in the quake-hit area, according to China National Tourism Administration.
Some 700 other Taiwanese, stranded in Chengdu and Chongqing Municipality since the quake, returned to the island Friday and Saturday on four chartered flights.
(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2008)