Seven in 10 victims of ferry sinking file for gov’t compensation

October 1, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The government has finished the first phase of the compensation claims process for victims of last year’s tragic ferry sinking, with about seven out of every 10 victims and survivors filing for damages, the government said Thursday.

As of Wednesday, bereaved families of 208 victims out of the 304 killed in the tragic accident have filed for government compensation that is expected to reach 470 million won (US$397,799) for each victim, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Also, 140 out of 157 who survived the accident have filed for compensation, which will vary for each victim depending on the degree of their injuries and other damage.

Those who failed to file for compensation have said they planned to file a damage suit against the state and the private operator of the Sewol.

The 6,825-ton ship sank off the country’s southwest coast on April 16 last year while en route to the southern resort island of Jeju.

The accident sparked a public outcry as nearly all crewmembers, including its captain, abandoned the ship while hundreds of passengers were still trapped inside. Those killed in the accident also included some 200 high school students on a school excursion.

The 15 surviving crew members of the ferry have been handed down prison terms ranging from five to 30 years while the ship’s 68-year-old captain Lee Joon-seok has been sentenced to 36 years in prison.

So far, 47.2 billion won has been paid in compensation to the victims’ families or those injured in the accident.

The amount also includes compensation for residents and fishermen from the areas close to the accident site who had been forced to give up their daily work to make way for search and rescue operations that lasted nearly seven months until mid-November.

A fresh search operation is now under way, this time to recover the ship and the bodies of nine victims who remain missing.