Pinoy survivor thankful for second chance in life after Taiwan bridge tragedy

Marje Pelayo   •   October 4, 2019   •   1592

Edgardo Ortiz

TAIPEI, Taiwan – One Filipino survivor in the collapse of Nangfang-ao bridge in the province of Yilan is beyond words in gratitude for the second chance in life after surviving the accident unharmed.

Edgardo Ortiz has been working as a fisherman in Taiwan for 11 long years and has not experienced any major tragedy at work until Tuesday (October 1).

Edgardo was among the survivors in the horrifying collapse of the 140-meter bridge, the only steel single-arch bridge in Taiwan, which directly hit their fishing vessel.

For years, the Pinoy fisherman said, it had been a routine for their fishing vessel to dock and refuel under Nangfang-ao bridge.

“Sa ilalim ng tulay doon kami nagpa-parking habang nagku-krudo kami (We usually park under the bridge every time we refuel),” he recounted.

“Iyong ibang mga kasamahan ko doon nakahiga sila sa may cabin, iyong apat na crew kasi walang ginagawa. Magkadikit ang tatlong barko namin kasi iisa lang (naman) ang amo namin,” he added.

(My colleagues chose to rest for a while inside the cabin, there were four of them since there was no work to do. All three vessels were docked side by side since we’re all under one employer.)

Edgardo said he was ordered to help in the refueling while his companions were resting.

“Pinatulong ako ni Chief sa pagku-krudo doon sa bandang likuran sa may kusina (Our chief asked me to help in the refueling at the back portion of the boat, near the kitchen),” he recalled.

While waiting for the tank to fill, Eduardo briefly returned to the cabin to get his cellphone supposedly to call his wife while their vessel was docked.

But right after taking his cellphone and leaving the cabin, the bridge collapsed over them.

“Akala ko nga lindol lang iyon (I thought there was an earthquake),” he said.

“Pagtingin ko sa cabin, wala. Nasira, nayupi na iyong higaan doon sa bandang likuran (When I checked the cabin, it was damaged already. The bed was crushed),” he added as he recalled what happened to his co-workers.

Edgardo and one other companion slowly crawled towards the back section of the boat while the vessel was still afloat.

“Kaming dalawa ng assistant ko, dalawa kaming magkasama doon tumutulong. Gumapang kami palabas bandang likuran iyong doon sa may lambatan,” he noted.

(My assistant and I crawled towards the exit at the back portion of the boat where the nets were stored.)

“Pagtingin ko, tulay na pala iyong bumagsak ( I looked around and saw that it was the bridge that collapsed),” he added.

An oil tanker was passing underneath when the bridge crashed over it causing an explosion and starting a massive fire.

At first, Edgardo thought it was their vessel that went ablaze.

He was thankful to have survived the tragedy along with several others.

However, he was saddened that six of their colleagues, including three kababayans, perished in the accident.

They may be of different nationalities but Edgardo said they bonded as one family through the years that they have been working together at sea.

Nevertheless, he is thankful to God for saving his life.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa Panginoon Dios dahil sa Kanyang pag-iingat sa buhay ko (I thank the Lord God for keeping my life safe),” he said.

“Iba talaga iyong may Dios ka sa buhay. Mayroong mag-iingat sa atin (Life is different when you have God in you. You are sure Someone is taking care of you),” he concluded. – MNP (with details from Amiel Pascual)

Two Filipinos confirmed dead in Taiwan bridge collapse

Marje Pelayo   •   October 2, 2019

Rescuers conduct a retrieval operation in the scene of the collapsed Nanfangao Bridge in Nanfangao, Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan, 01 October 2019. The arch bridge collapsed on 01 October 2019 after an oil tanker crossed on to the bridge. The structural failure caused the tanker to fall into the waterway and ignite. The accident left 12 people injured, including the tanker driver, 2 dead and 4 missing. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO

MANILA, Philippines – The remains of two Filipino fishermen were finally recovered on Wednesday (October 2) after they went missing when the 140-meter Nanfang’ao Bridge collapsed over them in Yilan, Taiwan, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) confirmed in a statement.

The two Filipinos were identified as Andree Abregana Serencio and Gorge Jagmis Impang.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operation is still on-going on the site as one Filipino fisherman identified as Romulo Ilustrisimo Escalicas Jr., remains missing.

“We will assist in the repat of human remains and to process all benefits and entitlements arising from the accident,” assured Rolly Francia, Information and Public Service Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Francia noted that Impang’s next of kin will receive all benefits as he is an active member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Serencio, however, has no active record of membership since 2017.

According to Yilan Fire Bureau, the bodies of Impang and Serencio were among the missing fishermen in the tragedy.

The other two recovered bodies were those of the two Indonesian fishermen Wartono and Ersona, according to authorities.

Nine other fishermen were injured in the incident, including five Filipinos who, according to DOLE were all brought to Poai Hospital and Kong Min Hospital in Yilan County.

The five fishermen are now safe.

“Nagpadala kami ng mga tao doon both sa MECO at sa OWWA Welfare Officer natin para matulungan yung mga kababayan natin, (We have representatives from MECO and OWWA to help them,)” assured MECO Chairman Angelito Banayo.

“Kinausap din (natin) iyong mga agencies at mga ahente nitong mga ito para masiguradong sagot ng kanilang insurance, (We also coordinated with their agencies and agents to make sure they receive the insurance benefits),” he concluded. MNP (with details from Amiel Pascual)

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