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June 29, 2017

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Kaohsiung to use donations for victims' compensation

In order to allow victims of the Kaohsiung gas explosions to receive compensation as soon as possible, the Kaohsiung City Government yesterday said it will first compensate them with between NT$1.2 billion and NT$1.5 billion from the donations account, and then sue those responsible for the disaster on behalf of the victims.

Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Lee Yung-te (李永得) explained the city's decision, saying that, considering that the victims may have to go through a lengthy and expensive lawsuit for their deserved compensation, the city government has decided to pay them first.

After the gas explosions occurred, the city government formed a special commission to handle the more than NT$3.3 billion collected in donations from the public, Lee said, noting that the NT$1.2 to NT$1.5 billion compensation will be first paid from donations.

Kaohsiung will then later press charges against the potentially responsible parties, such as LCY Chemical Corp. (李長榮化學工業) for compensation on behalf of the victims, Lee said.

Kaohsiung said that, based on its estimation, every deceased victim's family will receive NT$12 million, each heavily injured victim will receive NT$8 million, and every victim with minor injuries will get NT$2 million from the city government.

The deputy mayor said the city's offer is not compulsory, as the victims can still choose to press charges against the parties responsible on their own. Lee said that the city government just wants to ensure the victims can receive their compensation and get their lives back on track as soon as possible.

As the Executive Yuan recently said that it will grant NT$1.6 billion to Kaohsiung for reconstruction projects, Lee yesterday said that once the city government wins the lawsuit, it will return the funds to the central government.

Kaohsiung Legal Affairs Bureau Director Tseng Ching-chung (曾慶崇) said the victims can file compensation applications as long as they deem that their health, ability to work or their residences and vehicles were damaged by the explosions.

Tseng said that although the victims who applied for compensation from the city government do not need to pay attorney fees, they do have to pay 1 percent of the court costs and 0.8 percent of the execution fee to the city government. If a victim applies for NT$1 million compensation, then he or she has to give Kaohsiung NT$18,000 in advance, Tseng explained.

Tseng further said that if the prosecutors later discover that the city government should also be held accountable over the incident, then Kaohsiung will definitely not shirk its responsibilities.

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