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Bridge Collapses in Taiwan Killing 6

Friday, October 4, 2019

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On Tuesday (Oct. 1), the Nanfangao Bridge collapsed in northeastern Taiwan, resulting in the death of six people and the injury of 10 other individuals.

The 140-meter-long (460 foot-long) single-span arch bridge is reported to have collapsed about 9:30 a.m. local time.

About the Bridge

Completed in 1998 by MAA Consultants (Bangkok, Thailand), the Nanfangao Bridge was built to replace a lower preexisting bridge that prevented large fishing boats from passing underneath, TIME reports.

According to MAA, the bridge was the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan to be supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world. Prior to its collapse, the structure stood 18 meters high and was a popular tourist attraction in Yilan, Taiwan.

However, the Central News Agency reports that in 2016 a report on bridges in Yilan had discovered problems with the structure, stating that there were issues with the expansion joints. Designed to absorb changes in temperatures, motorists reported that they could sense an alteration in levels on either side of the joints, possibly a consequence of warping or other complications.

These issues were stated to be resolved by Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd.—the company responsible for managing the bridge—in 2017 and 2018 when the joints were cleaned, along with the maintenance and repair of rusted steel reinforcements, guardrails and other issues.

What Happened

Most recently, the bridge endured Typhoon Mitag Monday evening before the collapse, although reports claim that 137 kilometers per hour (85 mph) wind gusts affected the island before moving to the northeast, where the bridge is located. Disaster relief officials wouldn’t say if the storm had weakened the bridge.

In the moments of the bridge collapsing, video footage reveals a large oil truck almost reaching the end of the bridge, but then sliding backwards and into the water, catching fire as a result of the fall. The video also revealed the truck and structure falling on top of various fishing boats below.

Although the Taiwanese driver of the oil tanker is reported to have survived with injuries, nine additional individuals—Filipino and Indonesian fishermen— were sent to nearby hospitals, six of whom were reported to have serious injuries.

Following the incident, Taiwan’s military deployed a floating platform to help rescue workers, remove debris and extract boats. Two workers were also reported to have experienced injuries during rescue efforts.

What’s Happening Now

Investigators are currently looking into the condition of the bridge’s steel cables, as well as the possibility of corrosion. Other reports question the possibility of one of the bridge piers collapsing prior to the incident.

The Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd. has stated it will be providing compensation to the deceased families in the amount of T$5 million ($160,860).


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; Bridge cables; Bridges; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Z-Continents

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (10/4/2019, 8:00 AM)

Lack of risk assessment processes coupled with inadequate engineering is logical prespective at this point.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (10/4/2019, 12:22 PM)

I think this could be a long investigation. Need to look at the complete history of the bridge from design, construction and maintenance to past ship impacts. I would hope that this doesn't turn out to be another "Galloping Gertie" (Tacoma Narrows Bridge) with a lesser, but just as damaging, oscillation issue that finally came to a head.

Comment from Super Quah, (10/4/2019, 8:00 PM)

Hope that the investigation team could look into the level of sparring concrete that could weaken the reinforcement bar!

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/9/2019, 8:10 AM)

Here's a list of 52, single, tied arch bridges: That list is incomplete - it doesn't include the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in Dallas, for example. The list includes at least 10 bridges older than the one which collapsed (some bridges are undated in this reference)

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