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Possible structural issues examined in Taiwan bridge fall

October 3, 2019
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This image made from video provided by Taiwan's Military News Agency shows Nanfangao Bridge, collapsed in Nanfangao, eastern Taiwan, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. The towering arch bridge over a bay collapsed Tuesday, sending a burning oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below. (Taiwan's Military News Agency via AP)
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This image made from video provided by Taiwan's Military News Agency shows Nanfangao Bridge, collapsed in Nanfangao, eastern Taiwan, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. The towering arch bridge over a bay collapsed Tuesday, sending a burning oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below. (Taiwan's Military News Agency via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Investigators on Thursday were examining possible structural problems surrounding a bridge that collapsed in northeastern Taiwan, killing six people.

A 2016 report on bridges in Yilan county had found problems with the expansion joints on the Nanfang’ao bridge, which was completed in 1998 and collapsed Tuesday morning, the official Central News Agency reported. The joints are designed to absorb changes in temperature.

CNA cited the report as saying that motorists could sense a difference of levels on either side of the joints, possibly as a result of warping or other problems.

The company responsible for managing the bridge, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd., earlier said it cleaned the joints and fixed other problems such as rusted steel reinforcements and guardrails in 2017 and 2018.

Experts are also looking into the condition of the bridge’s steel cables, including the possibility of dangerous levels of corrosion.

The 140-meter (460-foot) -long, 18-meter (nearly 60 feet) -high bridge, collapsed into a bay on Taiwan’s lightly populated east coast, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Taipei. A typhoon swept by the island earlier, but the weather was sunny when the bridge collapsed, and it wasn’t clear if the storm was a factor.

Divers on Thursday found the body of the sixth fatality when the bridge collapsed onto fishing boats below. Another 10 people were injured, including the driver of an oil tanker truck that was crossing the bridge at the time of its collapse.

Taiwan’s military deployed a floating platform to help workers remove debris and extract crushed boats.

TIPC said it would provide 5 million Taiwan dollars ($160,857) in compensation to the families of those killed. They were identified as Wartono, 29, Ersona, 32, and Mohamad Domiri, 28, all from Indonesia, along with Philippine citizens Andree Serencio, 44, George Impang 46, and Romulo Escalicas, 29.

Indonesians and Filipinos are drawn to work in Taiwan’s vast fishing fleet, where conditions can be difficult, but wages are much higher than at home.

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