3 Thai migrant workers drown off coast of New Taipei

3 Thai migrant workers die after caisson submerges in waters off New Taipei City

(National Fire Agency photo)

(National Fire Agency photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Seven workers fell into the frigid waters off New Taipei City on Sunday (Dec. 1) after the caisson they had been standing on submerged, with three Thai nationals losing their lives.

On Sunday afternoon, seven workers were laying caissons for a natural gas terminal construction project run by state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp., Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) in Taipei Port. At around 4:40 p.m., seven workers, including six Thais and one Taiwanese, were standing on a caisson as it was lowered into place when it unexpectedly sank below sea level, plunging the men into the water, according to a National Fire Agency press release.

Hearing the workers' calls for help, crew members on a nearby tugboat tossed life preservers, which were quickly grabbed onto. However, even though they were wearing life jackets and despite the life preservers, many were sucked under by the vortex formed by the sinking caisson, reported UDN.

(National Fire Agency photo)

The tugboat crew was eventually able to rescue the seven workers and bring them to shore. However, when fire department paramedics arrived on the scene, three of the Thai men were not showing any vital signs and were immediately rushed to Mackay Memorial Hospital and Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Unfortunately, doctors were unable to resuscitate them, and all three were declared dead, according to the press release. The three other Thai workers were suffering hypothermia and are still in the hospital receiving treatment.

The Taiwanese worker did not suffer any serious injuries from the incident and was discharged from the hospital following treatment.

(National Fire Agency photo)

According to a preliminary investigation by the New Taipei District Prosecutor's Office, the caisson's roof was damaged when the tugboat had previously towed it into a temporary storage area. The Keelung Harbor Police Department has informed the contractor, Pan Asia (泛亞公司), of its preliminary assessment that the depth of the seabed had been underestimated, causing the caisson to sink below sea level and spill the workers into the sea, reported Liberty Times.

The police department said that it will invite professional teams to measure the depth of the seabed and investigate the exact cause of the accident. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed the Thailand Trade and Economic Office of the deaths of the Thai workers and expressed the government's sympathy and willingness to assist, reported CNA.