RESCUERS have found the bodies of two of the three Filipino crew members of a fishing boat reported as missing and feared trapped after a bridge collapsed into a harbor on Tuesday in Yilan country, Taiwan.
The third Filipino, identified as Romulo Ilustrisimo Escalicas Jr., remained missing, according to Manila Economic Cultural Office chair Lito Banayo. He said they have informed the families of the two Filipinos but declined to divulge their names.
Taiwanese media identified the two as Andree Abregana, 44, whose body was found Tuesday night and Impang George Jagmis, 47, who was recovered Wednesday morning.
Banayo said the families of the two will receive P200,000 each and burial assistance of P20,000.
In all, five people have been recovered as of yesterday by divers who joined hundreds of rescuers in the search effort, using cranes and excavators to raise the wreckage of two fishing boats after Tuesday’s accident injured 10 people, most of them fishermen from Indonesia and the Philippines.
“Rescuers found the body of a foreign fisherman … while the search for one missing foreign fisherman continues,” the National Fire Agency said in a statement in the early afternoon as reported by Reuters.
Five Filipino fishermen were among those injured. They were identified as Julio S. Gimawa, Jason N. Villaruel, Allan H. Alcansano, John Vicente Royo and June B. Flores.
Dramatic video images released by Taiwan’s Coast Patrol Corps showed the arched bridge in the northeastern town of Suao collapsing just as an oil tanker was crossing. Plumes of black smoke went up when the cargo of fuel burst into flames.
It was not immediately known what caused the collapse that crushed three boats and set the tanker ablaze.
The bridge, dubbed the “lovers’ bridge,” was built in 1998 and was a tourist attraction.
The incident shocked many in Taiwan, which is regularly hit by earthquakes and typhoons and has high building standards, prompting authorities to launch a review of bridges.
Banayo said the Nanfangao Bridge in Nafangao, Yilan county may have collapsed due to the strong winds and rains brought by typhoon Mitag.
Typhoon Mitag swept past northeastern Taiwan on Monday, injuring 12 people and cutting power to more than 60, 000 homes, local authorities said. One hundred fifty flights were also cancelled.
More than 124, 000 Filipinos are living and working in Taiwan, mostly in the electronic and textile sectors, making them the second largest group of migrant workers, next to Indonesians. – With Gerard Naval