Four bodies of migrant fishermen found after Yilan bridge collapse

According to the Yilan Fire Bureau statement, two of the bodies were found in the waters near the collapse site at around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Another body was found nearby at around 1 a.m. Wednesday. (NOWnews)
According to the Yilan Fire Bureau statement, two of the bodies were found in the waters near the collapse site at around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Another body was found nearby at around 1 a.m. Wednesday. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The bodies of four missing migrant fishermen trapped under a collapsed bridge in Yilan County Tuesday have been found by rescue workers, while two others remain missing, according to the authorities Wednesday.

The bodies are believed to be from a group of six migrant fishermen, three Indonesian and three Filipino, who became trapped when the bridge above the entry to the port of Nanfang’ao suddenly ruptured and collapsed, crushing three fishing boats.

According to the Yilan Fire Bureau statement, two of the bodies were found in the waters near the collapse site at around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Another body was found nearby at around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

At 8:40 a.m. the body of a fourth person who had been trapped was found, but the authorities have not verified his identity.

The bodies have been sent to the Su’ao Branch of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the statement said.

The victims who have been identified are 29-year-old Indonesian Wartono, 44-year-old Filipino Serencio Andree Abregana, and 32-year-old Indonesian Ersona.

Witnesses to the incident told CNA that the landmark arch bridge hovering above the entry to the port suddenly ruptured and collapsed at around 9:30 a.m, crushing the three fishing boats getting ready to go out to sea.

An oil tanker truck just about to exit the bridge at the time also fell with the bridge and caught fire.

In addition to the missing migrant fishermen, 10 other people, including the Taiwanese oil tanker driver, were injured in the incident and have all been sent for medical treatment, according to the authorities.

Tseng Yen-pu (曾彥博), a representative of Sang Yi International Co., Ltd. manpower agency, said the missing and injured migrant fishermen involved were from his agency.

Of those injured, nine are fishermen. Eight of them are in stable condition and have been discharged from hospital, while the other fisherman — an Indonesian migrant — is in serious condition, Tseng said.

Wu Chih-hung (吳志宏), Yilan’s Labor Affairs Department director-general, said the owner of the boats crushed by the collapsed bridge has five vessels and employs a total of 23 migrant fishermen.

Rescue workers are still searching the area for the remaining missing fishermen as of press time.

The cause of the bridge collapse is under investigation. There have been speculation that the steel cable holding up the bridge had rusted due to long-term exposure to wind and rain since the bridge was built in 1999 and that the bridge may not have undergone proper maintenance, which may have caused the bridge to collapse.

By Chiu Chun-chin