Hopes were fading last night for six people believed to be trapped when a bridge in Taiwan collapsed onto a group of fishing boats moored underneath.
Dramatic CCTV footage captured the moment the 140-meter long single-arch bridge came crashing down in Nanfangao, on Taiwan’s east coast.
In the video, the road gave way and tumbled down onto at least three fishing boats as a petrol tanker that was crossing also plunged into the water early yesterday.
At least 12 people were injured, including six Filipino and three Indonesian fishing workers, the Taiwanese driver of the petrol tanker, and two coastguard personnel, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency.
Officials launched a rescue operation after the collapse and were later informed six foreign workers were unaccounted for and might be trapped in the boats underneath the collapsed structure.
One badly damaged boat was pulled out from under the structure in the afternoon, but two more remained stuck with the tide rising.
“It’s been a long time since it happened and even if the workers survived the impact of the collapse, the air might not last this long,” a local official said.
Yilan Fire Department chief Hsu Song-yi said rescuers were having difficulty accessing the two remaining vessels which were underwater in low visibility.
“This is a complicated rescue operation,” he said. “We were in consultation with structural and building experts as well as ship-building experts, and therefore it has taken us longer. We are doing our best.”
The petrol tanker burst into flames at some point after it hit the water, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air.
It is not immediately clear what caused the bridge – which was completed in 1998 and spanned a small fishing port – to collapse.
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. Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the cause of the incident.