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10 Taiwanese nationals have died in Australia so far this year: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A total of 10 Taiwanese nationals died in Australia over the past 11 months, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Between January and November of 2013, four Taiwanese were killed in car accidents, three died of drowning, two people died by suicide and one died of unknown causes, Bob Chen (陳龍錦), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a news briefing in Taipei yesterday.

Eight out of the 10 were visiting the country under a working holiday program, he noted.

Over the same period of time, Chen said that Taiwan's representative office in Australia has offered assistance to 30 Taiwanese nationals involved in car accidents in Australia who were either injured or killed during the incidents.

In response to the high casualty rate for Taiwanese travelers in the country, Chen called on Taiwanese nationals to obey traffic rules in Australia, especially considering that Australians drive on the left side of two-way roads, which is different from in Taiwan.

To avoid drowning, Chen also urged Taiwanese never swim alone in Australia.

The ministry urged young people to purchase medical and car insurance before traveling to the country, where medical expenses for foreigners are extremely high, he added.

MOFA also urged young people to secure legal work contracts when taking employment overseas to help avoid labor disputes in the future, Chen said. There are an increasing number of Taiwanese visiting the southern continent on the working holiday scheme, according to MOFA.

Surge in Taiwanese Backpackers

  Citing statistics from Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Chen said that among all the working holiday travelers in Australia, Taiwanese are the second-largest group, trailing only the United Kingdom.

Australia issued over 35,000 working holiday visas to Taiwanese nationals between July 2012 and June 2013, which has seen a 59-percent increase compared with the previous year, he said.

According to MOFA, the most recent incident where a Taiwanese backpacker was injured in Australia was in November, when a 23-year-old Taiwanese on a working holiday in Australia received burns to the lower half of his body at a meat-processing factory after he fell into boiling water.

The condition of the Taiwanese youth, surnamed Hsiao (蕭), has been stabilized since the accident and Taiwan's representative office will continue to offer all necessary assistance to him for his quick recovery, Chen said.

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