10 Families of China Crash Victims Take Payment

Many families of victims who died in the Wenzhou high-speed rail crash have refused government offers of compensation. But ten families have accepted. From AP:

Families who agreed will receive about $142,000 for each victim who died a week ago when one bullet train rammed into another that had stalled after being hit by lightning.

Forty people were killed in the accident in the eastern city of Wenzhou, and another 190 were injured, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The crash has come to be seen as emblematic of the problems with China’s breakneck development over the past three decades, sometimes achieved at the expense of public safety and the environment.

Hoping to assuage public anger, authorities nearly doubled their initial $78,000 offer to $142,000. But many family members said that was still too little, and that the Ministry of Railways should take more responsibility for the accident.

Meanwhile, law firms in Wenzhou were instructed not to take cases involving the train crash, a notice that was later rescinded. From the Washington Post:

Law firms in the eastern city of Wenzhou, near where the train crash happened July 23, received an “urgent statement” in the names of the city’s Judicial Bureau and the Lawyers’ Association three days after the accident, Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.

Lawyers should not handle cases without authorization, because “the accident is a major sensitive issue concerning social stability,” Xinhua said.

The statement said that as soon as injured passengers and families of those killed seek legal help, lawyers should report to the judicial bureau and lawyers association, Xinhua said Saturday. The judicial bureau is a local government department, and the lawyers association represents lawyers and law firms and is under the direct leadership of the judicial bureau.

The city judicial bureau, which supervises law firms, denies it issued the notice after an outcry on the Internet. It says the lawyers’ association put out the notice in its name.

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