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Typhoon-trapped Chinese tourists back home from Saipan

More than 1,000 Chinese tourists trapped by Super Typhoon Yutu in Saipan were back home as of Monday.

Yutu, which hit the island territories overnight on Wednesday, led to the shutdown of local airport and port due to damages. About 3,200 foreign tourists were stranded, including some 1,500 Chinese.

After the airport resumed operation for civil airplanes on Sunday morning, Chinese airlines including Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Hong Kong Express sent charter flights to evacuate Chinese tourists.

The first Chinese charter flight of Sichuan Airlines arrived in Saipan on Sunday morning, carrying 245 Chinese tourists back home.

Another three Chinese flights took a total of nearly 700 stranded Chinese tourists home on Sunday.

Two more airplanes of Sichuan Airlines and China Eastern Airlines took off from Saipan on Monday to take back the rest of Chinese tourists. Another airplane of Hong Kong Express is scheduled to fly inbound on Tuesday, which will be the last commercial Chinese flight for evacuation mission.

There were very few Chinese tourists who did not take charter flights back home due to personal willingness and documentation reasons, according to the Consulate General of China in Los Angeles.

Chinese tourists were very excited when they heard the news they could start to fly back home on Sunday, said Tom Liu, president of Saipan Travel Inc.

"The evacuation went very well," said Liu. "Sichuan Airlines and other Chinese airline companies made good preparations for sending flights to Saipan. As soon as local airport resumed service, Chinese flights flew inbound immediately."

A tourist surnamed Wang suffered from fracture in Saipan, and was unable to get treatment as medical centers had been restricted by Yutu. She searched for help from the consulate general and finally boarded charter flight of Sichuan Airlines.

"The motherland is our strong backup. Thanks to the support of the country and help from various sectors, I was lucky to return back home so quickly," she said, bursting into tears.

Zhang Yongchen, scriptwriter and producer of a TV series shot in Saipan, told Xinhua the crew flew to Saipan with over 100 boxes of camera equipment via an Asiana aircraft. It will be very difficult if they have to take return flight of Asiana airlines, because they had to transfer in Seoul and have all the camera equipment go through customs formalities.

Zhang turned to China Eastern Airlines for help, and successfully got 16 members of the crew as well as all the equipment aboard their flight.

Local airport will only allow in-bound passengers who are residents or relief effort personnel, after foreign airlines evacuated all the foreign tourists, said a release of the governor office.

With sustained winds of over 270 km per hour, the powerful storm caused one death and several injuries, tearing up roofs and pulling down trees and power lines in the Marianas.

Source:Xinhua  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Typhoon-trapped Chinese tourists back home from Saipan)

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