S.Korea: $380,000 Per Death in Ferry Disaster
The South Korean government said on Wednesday it would pay about 420 million won (US$380,000) as compensation for each of the 250 students who died or remain missing from the MV Sewol ferry disaster last year, although some victims' families accused the government of trying to divert attention from their demands for an independent probe.
Public demands by victims' families for the government to allow an independent investigation into the disaster have intensified in the weeks leading up to the anniversary. Victims' families also want the ship to be raised, but the government has yet to decide on a plan for doing so.
"The families of the deceased will not take 4.2 trillion won let alone 420 million won if the probe for the real truth and the raising of the ship are not conducted properly," Yoo Kyung-keun, who heads the victims' families association, was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
They say a government investigation last year was inadequate, and that a joint government-private commission set up for a new probe into the sinking does not have enough representation from the families.
More than two-thirds of the 476 passengers on board the doomed Sewol ferry were students on a school trip. Many of them died trapped in the vessel following orders by the crew to stay in their cabins as it capsized and sank on April 16 last year.
The families of 11 teachers who died in the disaster will each receive about 760 million won (US$689,000), the higher amount to account for lost income, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said. Other passengers will receive between 150 million won (US$136,000) and 600 million won (US$544,000), depending on their age and income.
The ministry said compensation could rise when payments from insurance and a fund that was established with contributions from the public are added. Those payments are expected to amount to 300 million won (US$272,000) per person, a ministry official said.
Copyright Reuters 2015.