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Compensation settled for 32 killed in Kaohsiung gas explosions

Compensation settled for 32 killed in Kaohsiung gas explosions

Kaohsiung, July 17 (CNA) The three parties responsible for the July 31 gas explosions in Kaohsiung a year ago signed an agreement Friday that the families of each of the 32 people killed in the accident will receive compensation of NT$12 million (US$386,100). Under the deal struck by the Kaohsiung city government, LCY Chemical Corp. and China General Terminal and Distribution Corp. (CGTD), LCY agreed to pay the compensation on behalf of the other two parties before a final court ruling as to the proportional liability of the trio in the devastating incident that also injured 321 people. The payments will be made within four years at the latest, according to the agreement, which stipulates that once the court ruling is handed down, the trio will share the cost of the compensation based on their respective proportions of liability. The signing was witnessed by executive members of a self-help association of the gas explosion victims. Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Hsu Li-ming (???) said that LCY will begin to seek out-of-court settlements with the bereaved families, thanks to the agreement. The settlement pursuit, which began Friday, will continue until the end of August, Hsu said, noting that the signing of the agreement does not mean that LCY recognizes itself as the main culprit behind the multiple explosions that ripped apart several sections of streets in the city's Cianjhen and Lingya districts. The explosions were found to have been caused by a leak in a section of an aged underground propylene pipeline owned by LCY, when CGTD was contracted to transport the petrochemical substance to LCY's Dashe plant. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office indicted 12 people in connection with the explosions in December last year, including LCY Chairman Bowei Lee (???) and five of his employees. The others indicted were three CGTD employees and three former employees of Kaohsiung's municipal Public Work Bureau. Although Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??) and several incumbent city officials were investigated for their handling of a gas leak that preceded the blasts, none were indicted. The blasts triggered public criticism of the city government's failure to identify the source of the leak and fix it in time, instead allowing an escape of highly flammable gas for several hours. At Friday's signing, LCY Vice President Charles Wei (???) thanked the city government for "leaving aside the principle of liability proportions," as doing so allowed the compensation agreement to be reached rapidly. Asked about the agreement, Wang Chung-cheng (???), deputy chairman of the self-help association, said they are "not satisfied, but able to accept it." Wang, who owns a noodle restaurant, lost his wife and a son in the explosions. The self-help association head Chen Kuan-jung (???) noted that the blasts killed 32 people, including his father, and tore 30 families apart. Despite being in deep grief, he has been doing his utmost to negotiate with the two companies and the city government for the best interests of the families, and said he expects at least 28 of the families to sign the settlement agreement by the end of August. One of the other two bereaved families has complained that the compensation amount is too small, while the other remains in such a state of grave sorrow that it still cannot talk about the issue, Chen said. (By Cheng Chi-fong and Elizabeth Hsu)

Updated : 2021-09-25 07:33 GMT+08:00