Four people are dead and two are still missing after a 140-metre-long bridge popular with tourists collapsed into a harbour in the north-east town of Suao in Taiwan.
- Four bodies were recovered after an 18-metre-high bridge collapsed in Taiwan
- Dramatic footage captured the moment the bridge collapsed, sending an oil truck plummeting
- Ten people were taken to hospital with injuries, including the Taiwanese driver of the oil truck
The National Fire Agency said two bodies were retrieved from the water near a boat stuck underneath the bridge while the others were found near a badly damaged boat that was dragged out from under the structure on Tuesday.
Two of the victims were identified as Indonesian and another as Filipino, while the fourth body had not been identified.
“The search and rescue mission continues,” transport minister Lin Chia-lung said.
Four bodies were recovered from waters around the three crushed fishing boats. (AP: Ministry of National Defense)
Dramatic video footage captured the moment the arched bridge collapsed on Tuesday morning, sending a burning oil-tanker truck plunging onto three fishing boats moored in the harbour below.
Thick plumes of black smoke spiralled up into the air after the cargo of fuel burst into flames.
The seriously injured driver was immediately rescued from the burning vehicle and sent to hospital, according to the National Fire Agency.
Divers joined hundreds of rescuers — including more than 60 marines and naval officers — in search efforts, using cranes and excavators to raise the wreckage of two fishing boats.
Ten people were taken to hospitals with injuries, including the Taiwanese tanker driver.
The other nine are Filipino and Indonesian fishermen, with one, an Indonesian, in serious condition, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said, citing an employment agency that recruited the workers.
It was not immediately known what caused the collapse.
The centre of Typhoon Mitag swept by the island earlier on Monday night, but the weather was sunny when the bridge collapsed, and it was not clear if the storm was a factor.
Disaster relief officials would not say if the storm had weakened the bridge or give other details on the potential cause.
The 18-metre-high bridge, dubbed the “lovers’ bridge”, was built in 1998, and was a popular tourist attraction.
Built by MAA Consultants, it is the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world.
It replaced a lower bridge that prevented large fishing vessels from passing underneath.
The rare incident shocked many in Taiwan, which is regularly hit by earthquakes and typhoons and has high building standards, prompting authorities to launch a review of all old bridges.
The Government has set up a task force to investigate, with President Tsai Ing-wen vowing not to “evade responsibilities”.
“The Nanfangao bridge was regularly checked and maintained,” Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC), which managed the bridge’s maintenance, said in a statement, adding that it had observed safety regulations.
The bridge was last reinforced in 2018 and another security check was due next year, the company said. Problems such as rusty steel and cracks in concrete had been fixed during a check last October, it added.