Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Bridge COLLAPSES in Taiwan sending oil tanker truck crashing on to boats below, hours after typhoon hit the area – as divers search the water for victims

  • The 450ft-long bridge gave way in the Pacific fishing village of Nanfangao in eastern Taiwan this morning
  • Dramatic footage showed the bridge crumbling and collapsing as a petrol tanker was crossing it  
  • Rescuers are now searching the water with at least 14 people injured and another six unaccounted for  

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A towering arch bridge dramatically collapsed in Taiwan this morning, sending a tanker truck crashing onto fishing vessels and sparking a search for possible victims in the water.   

The 450ft-long bridge gave way in the Pacific fishing village of Nanfangao in eastern Taiwan, bringing its 60ft arch down with it. 

At least 14 people have been injured, and an air force helicopter, fishing vessels and more than 60 military personnel including divers were today searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble. 

The collapse came hours after a typhoon swept across parts of the island but officials would not speculate this morning on whether the storm had weakened the bridge. 

Search and rescue: Coastguard workers on a small Taiwanese boat search the wreckage of the Nanfangao Bridge which dramatically collapsed into the water this morning 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Disaster scene: The remains of the bridge in Nanfangao where the road has fallen into the water and the arch has been brought low by this morning’s sudden collapse 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

An injured person lies on stretcher at the site of the collapsed bridge in Nanfangao (left) while debris falls from the remains of the overpass (right)

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

The moment of collapse: The bridge spanning a small fishing port in Taiwan gives way and sinks into the water this morning

Video footage shows the oil tanker truck crossing the bay and making it most of the way to the other side before the bridge gives way and collapses a second later.  

It sends a cascade of water crashing into a nearby building and a boat, while the truck later burst into flames, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air.   

At least six people are unaccounted for, and it is feared they are trapped under the rubble on one of the boats which was under the bridge when it collapsed, according to the National Fire Agency.  

As rescuers worked at the scene, the road was completely underwater while the single arch was hanging low over the bay in eastern Taiwan. 

Emergency workers were examining the wreckage in small boats while on the shore they were forming a human chain to pull out objects that were trapped under the weight of the bridge.  

Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung claimed there had been five people on the bridge when it collapsed at around 9.30am on Tuesday morning.  

Coastguard officials said at least 14 people were injured and the driver of the petrol tanker was believed to be among those taken to hospital. Six people are seriously injured. 

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

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

A map showing Nanfangao, a fishing town on Taiwan’s eastern Pacific coast, where the bridge collapsed this morning

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

An overhead view of the collapsed bridge with the arch barely spanning the fishing port and most of the road underwater 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Rescuers form a human chain as they try to pull an object out from under the wreckage of the bridge in Taiwan this morning

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Underwater: A fishing boat approaches the remains of the bridge this morning after the road gave way, with fears that at least six people are trapped underneath the wreckage 

President Tsai Ing-wen said a rescue operation had been launched to look for any more injured or missing people.

‘We hope to safely rescue all in the shortest time to minimize the damages,’ she told reporters.   

Rescue officials said the injured included six Philippine and three Indonesian fishing workers as well as the Taiwanese driver of the petrol tanker. 

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

Nanfangao Bridge was opened in 1998 and was built to replace a lower bridge that prevented large fishing vessels from passing underneath.  

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Rescue workers in small boats examine part of the bridge at one end of the arch, where part of the road is still above water 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

People from the local village look on as rescuers conduct an inspection at the collapsed Nanfangao Bridge. The bridge can be seen submerged in water 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

The cause of the bridge collapse in Nanfangao is being investigated and dramatic pictures from the scene show boast underneath that have been crushed 

Typhoon Mitag had brought high winds and heavy rain to northern Taiwan on Monday night before moving northeast, and flights and ferry services had been cancelled yesterday. 

But the weather was clear at the time of the bridge collapse and disaster relief officials would not say if the storm had weakened the bridge. 

The Government-run Central News Agency said a bridge pier may have collapsed.  

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the cause of incident, said transport minister Lin Chia-lung, adding that the bridge was still within its expected 50-year lifespan.

‘Recent weather conditions, earthquakes and past assessments of the bridge will be taken into considerations. We will fully cooperate with the investigation,’ he told reporters.  

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. 

According to MAA Consultants, who designed the 60-foot high bridge, the Nanfangao crossing is the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world.  

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Some rescuers and military personnel are seen on the shore while others are in a small inflatable boat in the fishing port 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

The collapse sent an oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below.

Rescue workers and emergency service crews are seen above 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

A view over the fishing port in Nanfangao with the arch hanging above the water and the road underneath it 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

On the shore, two cranes hang over the bay while local residents look at the remains of the 450ft-long bridge

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Coastguard officials said at least 14 people were injured when the bridge collapses early in the morning.

The bridge is pictured above and cranes can be seen on the right hand side 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Rescuers including Taiwanese military personnel work right by the collapsed bridge as they search for people trapped today

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

At one end of the collapsed bridge, a digger is operating in the water and part of the road has splintered 

Taiwan bridge collapses, at least 14 injured

Moments from collapse: The oil tanker truck is just visible at the far end of the overpass seconds before it comes down 

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