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August 12, 2009

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Historic case opens over air-crash compensation

A TRIAL began yesterday for families seeking compensation for the loss of relatives in a 2005 air crash in north China that killed 55 people.

It was the first time a Chinese court had accepted a major lawsuit over air crash fatalities.

Families of 32 passengers who died in the mishap in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are demanding 123 million yuan (US$18 million) in total compensation from the carrier, China Eastern Airlines, engine maker General Motors Co and the plane's manufacturer, Canada-based Bombardier, the Beijing-based Legal Mirror reported.

The families also want the defendants to provide further clarity on the cause of the crash and apologize publicly. And they want a monument to be built to honor the victims.

Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court agreed to hear the case in March, but the trial date was delayed because an additional document was required from a claimant from Indonesia, whose relative was also among the victims.

The families have spent years trying to have their case heard. They filed their first lawsuit in 2007, which the court denied, according to their lawyer, Hao Junbo.

On November 21, 2004, the China Eastern plane crashed into a park minutes after taking off from Baotou City. All passengers and crew were killed on impact, along with two people on the ground.

Chen Shuyang, one of the victims, was manager of the Shanghai Fudan Forward Science and Technology Co, a company tied to the city's Fudan University.

The crash was caused by improper de-icing of the wings, the State Administration of Work Safety and the Ministry of Supervision said.


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