Six people trapped as oil tanker falls onto boats in dramatic bridge collapse

A towering arch bridge over a bay in eastern Taiwan has collapsed, sending an oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below.

The search for potential victims after Tuesday's collapse involved an air force helicopter and more than 60 army and naval personnel, including divers.

A handout photo made available by Taiwan Army Headquarters shows the collapsed Nanfangao Bridge.

Six people are believed trapped on 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. Ten people were sent to hospitals, six of them with serious injuries.

Fishing vessels were helping to search for the missing, Hsu told Formosa TV.

The bridge collapsed about 9.30am in Nanfangao, a tiny but often-crowded Pacific coast fishing village.

The weather at the time of the collapse was sunny, hours after a typhoon swept across parts of the island.

Rescuers conduct an inspection at the collapsed bridge. Source: EPA/Ritchie Tongo

Disaster relief officials would not say if the storm had weakened the bridge or give other details on the potential cause. Government-run Central News Agency said a bridge pier may have collapsed.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she hoped all government departments would do everything possible to save people and "keep the number of deaths and injuries as low as possible," CNA reported.

A disaster relief official said the collapse set off a fire and at least 10 people have been hurt. Source: AP

National Fire Agency spokesperson Su Hong-wei said the tanker's fall smashed three boats.

The 140-metre-long Nanfangao Bridge is a tourist attraction in Yilan. It was opened in 1998 and was built to replace a lower bridge that prevented large fishing vessels from passing underneath.

According to the company that designed the 18-metre-high bridge, MAA Consultants, it's the only single-span arch bridge in Taiwan supported by cables and the second single arch-cable steel bridge in the world.

The bridge collapse sent an oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below. Source: AP

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