THE bodies of two Filipinos were retrieved early Wednesday from under the collapsed Nanfangao Bridge in Taiwan, according to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco).
Relatives confirmed that two of the three missing Filipinos were inside one of the fishing boats pinned by the bridge. Three Indonesians also remained missing, said Meco Director for Administration Gerry de Belen.
He was quoted as saying the authorities are still engaged in retrieval operation. “They are finding it difficult to lift half of the fishing vessel that is still submerged. That part was hit worst by the structure.”
Meco head Lito Banayo, in a text message to the BusinessMirror said “two Filipinos pronounced dead after bodies were retrieved this dawn, some 19 hours after the accident happened.”
“One other Filipino still has to be retrieved. Yesterday, four injured Filipinos were discharged from the hospital after treatment, one other with wound.”
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday confirmed the death of two Filipino fishermen from the tragic collapse of a bridge in Taiwan.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Taiwan identified the fatalities as Andree Abregana Serencio and George Jagmis Impang.
“Our Polo, through welfare officer, already notified the families of the victims,” Labor Information and Public Service Director Rolly M. Francia said in a statement.
“We will assist in the repatriation of human remains and to process all benefits and entitlements arising from the accident,” he added.
He said Impang’s kin is already assured of benefits from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) since the seafarer is an active member of the agency.
In the case of Serencio, who is an inactive member of Owwa since 2017, Francia said Owwa is still determining what benefits could be extended to his beneficiaries.
Another Filipino seafarer, Romulo Ilustrisimo Escalicas Jr., is currently still missing and the subject of the ongoing search and rescue operations in Taiwan.
Earlier on Wednesday, Banayo said in a radio interview that one of the fatalities’ bodies was found past midnight while the other was found at about 4 a.m. He said rescuers were still searching for a third Filipino, a day after the accident in Yilan where five others were also injured.
Four of the survivors have been released from hospital after being treated for minor injuries; the fifth survivor remained in hospital with fractures.
The DOLE identified the survivors as: Julio S. Gimawa, Jason N. Villaruel, Allan H. Alcansano, John Vicente Royo and June B. Flores.
A video tape of the event taken by Taiwan’s Military News Agency dramatically shows the 140-meter long single-arch bridge tumbling down onto at least three fishing boats as a petrol tanker that was crossing also plunged into the water in Nanfangao, on Taiwan’s east coast.
The Ministry of the Interior’s National Fire Agency (NFA) had initially said that the oil tanker that passed the bridge on Tuesday had caused the collapse, with the truck falling onto the fishing boats underneath.
The steel arch supporting the bridge from above remains intact, but frayed steel strands or “hangers” could also be seen from the video.