Taiwan bridge collapse crushes fishing boats, six crew feared trapped

Nanfang'ao Bridge is seen collapsing in Suao, Taiwan October 1, 2019 in this still image taken from a video. COAST PATROL CORPS 1 NORTHERN BRANCH, COAST GUARD ADMINISTRATION /via REUTERS

A bridge collapsed into a harbour in northeastern Taiwan on Tuesday, injuring ten people as it crushed several fishing boats, with six crew feared trapped, authorities said.

Hundreds of rescuers scrambled to use cranes, an excavator and other equipment to free the boats, while divers scoured the waters for those trapped.

“The bridge collapsed at around 9:30 a.m. while an oil tanker vehicle was on it, setting the vehicle on fire,” said Shih I-chun, the secretary to the mayor of the port town of Suao, the site of the collapse.

“We feared that some fishermen might be trapped in the boats.”

The National Fire Agency said most of the ten injured were foreign fishermen, and six boat crew were feared to have been trapped.

Authorities have set up an emergency centre and the military said marines and the navy were helping with the rescue efforts.

“Saving life is the priority,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said in a post on Facebook. “I will ask related authorities to make all efforts for the rescue.”

The bridge, which carries traffic over the busy fishing port, damaged three fishing boats and two vehicles, including the oil tanker, when it collapsed, two officials said, though the reason was not immediately clear.

A tourist site dubbed the “lovers’ bridge”, it was built in 1998 and its structure was reinforced in 2018, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said.