Typhoon collapses bridge in Taiwan

Rescuers in Taiwan were searching on Monday for five missing people whose cars fell into a raging river after a bridge collapsed as Typhoon Sinlaku lashed the country, killing at least five and causing an estimated $6,7-million in farm losses, officials said.

Three cars plunged into the rising Tachia River in the central county of Taichung when a section of the 600m-long bridge collapsed on Sunday night amid strong winds and torrential rains, officials of the National Disaster Prevention and Protection Commission said.

Commission officials said police recovered the body of a computer engineer identified as Lei Yu-chi (32), but authorities were still looking for two other cars—a taxi cab with a driver and two passengers and a CRV with two people—believed to have also plunged into the river before the bridge was closed.

Taiwan TV news said Lei was driving alone and talking with his friend by cellphone when suddenly his car plunged into the raging river. His friend immediately called police for help, the reports said.

More than 200 soldiers and rescuers were dispatched to search for the two missing vehicles and their occupants, commission officials said.

“So far, we have yet to find the missing people,” a spokesperson for the commission said.

He said a senior citizen and his wife were buried alive by a rockslide in their home in the northern county of Miaoli, while two motorcyclists—one in Miaoli and one in Taichung—were found dead in typhoon-triggered accidents.

Police were also searching for four other people, who were missing when the typhoon wreaked havoc on the island, bringing to nine the number of missing, the spokesperson said.

He said 17 people were injured in various degrees over accidents caused by Sinlaku, which also caused at least 215-million Taiwan dollars ($6,7-million) in agricultural losses.—Sapa-dpa

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