Five bodies found, fisherman still missing after Taiwan bridge collapse

Five bodies found, fisherman still missing after Taiwan bridge collapse

Rescue personnel look on at a bridge after it collapsed in the Nanfang'ao fish harbour
Rescue personnel look on at a bridge after it collapsed in the Nanfang'ao fish harbour in Suao township on Oct 1, 2019. (Photo: Sam YEH/AFP)

TAIPEI: Fivebodies have been recovered from under a collapsed bridge in Taiwan, rescuers said on Wednesday (Oct 2), as the search continued for a fisherman still missing when the structure smashed onto fishing boats moored underneath.

Divers joined hundreds of rescuers in the search effort, using cranes and excavators to raise the wreckage of two fishing boats after Tuesday's accident injured 10 people, most of them fishermen from Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Rescuers found the body of a foreign fisherman ... while the search for one missing foreign fisherman continues," the National Fire Agency said in a statement in the early afternoon.

Earlier, the agency said two bodies were retrieved in the waters near a boat stuck underneath the shattered bridge while the others were found near a badly damaged boat that was dragged out from under the structure on Tuesday.

"The search and rescue mission continues," transport minister Lin Chia-lung told reporters, adding evidence was being collected to ascertain any culpability.

A rescue team in a boat work at the site of a collapsed bridge in Nanfang'ao harbour
A rescue team in a boat work at the site of a collapsed bridge in Nanfang'ao harbour in Suao township on Oct 1, 2019. (Photo: Sam YEH/AFP)

Dramatic CCTV footage captured the moment the 140m-long single-arch bridge came crashing down in Nanfang'ao, on Taiwan's east coast early on Tuesday morning.

In the video, a vertical cable at the centre of the bridge's steel arch suddenly snaps.

The road then collapses into the water, crashing down on three fishing boats as a petrol tanker which nearly made it across also plunged into the water.

Twelve people were injured, including six Filipino and three Indonesian fishing workers, the Taiwanese driver of the petrol tanker, and two coastguard personnel.

The petrol tanker burst into flames at some point after it hit the water, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air.

Prosecutors have launched a probe into the cause of the collapse.

The collapsed bridge in the Nanfang'ao fish harbour
This general view shows a bridge after it collapsed in the Nanfang'ao fish harbour in Suao township on Oct 1, 2019. (Photo: Sam YEH/AFP)

The local landmark was completed in 1998 and spanned a small fishing port. It was featured in a number of TV dramas and commercials.

Taiwan was skirted by a typhoon on Monday night, which brought heavy rains and strong winds to parts of the east coast.

But at the time of the bridge collapse, the weather was fine.

A fishing boat is pictured after it was crushed when a bridge collapsed in Nanfang'ao harbour
A fishing boat is pictured after it was crushed when a bridge collapsed in Nanfang'ao harbour in Suao township on Oct 1, 2019. (Photo: Sam YEH/AFP)

Taiwan has a huge fishing industry and many of those who work on its boats are low-paid migrant workers from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Previous serious bridge incidents in Taiwan have mostly been related to typhoons.

In 2009, two bridges were badly damaged by Typhoon Morakot, which left more than 400 people dead.

Source: Agencies/jt/ga(hs)

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