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10 hurt as Taiwan bridge collapses onto fishing boats

TAIPEI, Taiwan: A towering arch bridge over a bay in eastern Taiwan collapsed into a harbour, sending an oil tanker falling onto three fishing boats below and leaving some crew feared trapped, authorities said.

A disaster relief official said at least 10 people had been hurt, six of them with serious injuries, in the incident in Nanfangao on Tuesday. Six people were believed trapped in one of the boats, the National Fire Agency said in a statement.

Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters about five people were feared to have been on the bridge when it collapsed.

Several were taken to hospital, while divers plunged into the waters to search for those feared trapped in the boats, two government officials from the port township of Suao told media.

“The bridge collapsed at around 9:30am (01:30 GMT) while an oil tanker vehicle was on it, setting the vehicle on fire,” said Shih I-chun, the secretary to the town mayor.

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

Authorities have sent soldiers for rescue efforts and set up an emergency centre to run the operation.

The bridge carries traffic over the busy fishing port. The reason for its collapse in clear weather was not immediately clear.

Late on Monday, typhoon Mitag, packing maximum winds of 162 km/h, swept past northeastern Taiwan, injuring 12 people and cutting power to more than 66,000 homes. More than 150 flights were cancelled.