Two Filipinos and three Indonesians were confirmed dead, while another Philippine man was missing after a bridge collapsed over a bay in eastern Taiwan, officials in Manila and Jakarta said Wednesday.
The Filipino fatalities, identified as Andree Abregana Serencio and Gorge Jagmis Impang, were aboard a fishing boat that was under the bridge when the span collapsed in Nanfang’ao, a Pacific coast fishing port in Yilan county, Philippine labor officials said in a statement. They said another worker, Romulo Escalicas Jr., remained missing after Tuesday’s disaster.
“The labor department extends its sympathies to the families of the Filipino workers who perished on board a fishing vessel crushed by a collapsed bridge,” the Department of Labor and Employment said.
“The search and retrieval operation is still on-going on the site of the accident,” it said, adding that five other Filipino workers were injured and brought to a hospital.
The Philippine labor office in Taiwan was facilitating the repatriation of the bodies of the two Filipinos. Manila's diplomats in Taiwan were “on top of the situation” and assisting the victims’ families, the department said.
In Jakarta, authorities told reporters that the bridge’s collapse killed at least three Indonesians and injured four other crew members of a Taiwanese fishing boat.
The bodies of the three victims were taken to a local hospital, said Joedha Nugraha, a director at Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The Indonesian Trade Office in Taipei and the Foreign Ministry will facilitate the repatriation of the victims and the fulfillment of their employment rights,” he said, without identifying the Indonesians.
At least five people were believed to have been on the single-arch Nanfang’ao Bridge when the disaster occurred, Taiwanese Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters. Ten people were sent to hospitals, six of them with serious injuries, he said.
Taiwan’s National Fire Agency also reported that six people were believed trapped on one of three fishing boats that were smashed, according to the Associated Press.
The accident occurred when the 460-foot bridge, apparently weakened by an earlier storm, collapsed as an oil tanker truck was passing over it, Taiwanese rescue officials said. The truck's fall started a fire but it did not spread beyond the vehicle, officials said.
Cranes and excavators were being used to raise the wreckage of the two fishing boats, while divers and rescuers were also scouring the bay in Nanfang’ao, according to Philippine diplomats.
“Taiwanese authorities were looking at the possible weakening of the cables that had held the bridge because of a recent typhoon that lashed Taiwan,” Lito Banayo, Manila’s de facto envoy to Taiwan, told a Philippine radio station.
The Philippines has a “One-China” policy, and does not maintain an embassy in Taipei, but an “economic and cultural office.”
There are almost 80,000 Filipinos employed in Taiwan, accounting for a large part of its migrant worker population. Many are employed in factories there, although some also work in the fisheries sector, Philippine officials said.