Arch Bridge Collapses in Taiwan, Crushing Fishing Boats, Divers Search for Victims

A bridge collapsed into a harbour in northeastern Taiwan on Tuesday, crushing several fishing boats with some crew feared trapped, authorities said.

Over 200 first responders, including coast guard divers and military personnel, arrived at the scene to search for survivors.

Rescuers work near the site of a collapsed bridge in Nanfangao, eastern Taiwan.

Six people are believed trapped on one of the boats, the National Fire Agency said.

The weather at the time of the collapse was sunny, hours after a typhoon swept across parts of the island. Officials have not said if those conditions contributed to the collapse. Yet, according to the reports, five people were hospitalized, six more remain under the rubble.

At least 12 people were injured, the Yilan County Fire Bureau said, with rescue operations continuing in the evening.

The tanker caught fire when it fell, but the fire did not spread, according to the AP.

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People from the local village look on as rescuers conduct an inspection at the collapsed Nanfangao Bridge. However, Banayo said three other Filipinos were trapped inside fishing vessels docked below and passing through the waters when the bridge went down.

Coastguard officials said at least 14 people were injured.

The centre of Typhoon Mitag passed east of Taiwan on Monday night and early Tuesday, but the outer winds gusting up to 137km/h affected the island before the storm moved to the northeast. People from both countries regularly staff Taiwanese-registered boats.

With a length of 140 meters (460 feet) and a height of 18 meters (nearly 60 feet), the bridge was the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world.

This image made from video provided by Taiwan's Military News Agency shows Nanfangao Bridge, collapsed in Nanfangao, eastern Taiwan on October 1, 2019.

Video of the collapse shows the oil tanker had almost made its way across the bridge when it caved in and collapsed straight down into the water.

  • Sonia Alvarado