Taiwan arch bridge collapses, at least 10 injured as divers search for possible victims
A massive arch bridge in Taiwan collapsed on Tuesday, causing a burning oil tanker to fall into the water below and prompting the military and divers to search for possible victims as nearly a dozen people were sent to the hospital.
The Nanfangao Bridge, located in Nanfangao, a tiny but crowded Pacific coast fishing village in eastern Taiwan, caved in around 9:30 a.m., officials said.
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Ten people were sent to the hospital — six with serious injuries, authorities said. Six people were believed to be trapped in a fishing boat that was in the water below the bridge when it collapsed, according to the National Fire Agency. Possibly five people were thought to be on the bridge when it collapsed, Taiwan's Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung said.
The 460-foot bridge collapsed hours after a typhoon hit the island, despite it being sunny and the weather appearing to be fine. Disaster relief officials would not say if the storm had weakened the bridge or give other details on the potential cause.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she hoped all government departments would do everything possible to save people and "keep the number of deaths and injuries as low as possible," government-run Central News Agency reported.
Of the 10 people hospitalized, six are Filipinos and three are Indonesians, the fire agency said in a statement. People from both countries regularly work on fishing boats registered in Taiwan, where pay is better than in their home countries.
The center of Typhoon Mitag passed east of Taiwan on Monday night and early Tuesday, but the outer winds gusting up to 85 mph affected the island before the storm moved to the northeast. The storm injured 12 people, felled trees, damaged vehicles and caused power outages around the island.
Nanfangao Bridge is a tourist attraction in Yilan. It was opened in 1998 and was built to replace a lower bridge that prevented large fishing vessels from passing underneath.
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The company that designed the bridge, which is nearly 60 feet high, says it is the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.