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Lawsuit over 2004 air crash under way in Beijing

By Zhao Yinan and Cao Yin  (China Daily)

09:56, October 11, 2012

Families seek 132m yuan from three companies

A Chinese court has begun to hear a class action lawsuit brought by the relatives of 32 people killed in a 2004 air crash.

Families affected by the incident are suing three companies for a total of 132 million yuan ($21 million) and a public apology.

They also want the accident investigation report to be released to the public, and a stone memorial placed at the crash site, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Hao Junbo, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said he was optimistic after the first two-hour hearing at Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, held on Tuesday.

Although the court did not allow the families to attend the proceedings in order to avoid emotional scenes, he said some of the victims' relatives had been encouraged by how the case is progressing.

It is not known when the second hearing will take place, the lawyer said.

A spokesman for the court declined to comment on Wednesday.

A China Eastern Airlines flight crashed less than a minute after takeoff from an airport in Baotou on Nov 21, 2004. All 54 people aboard and one person on the ground were killed.

The victims' families originally filed their lawsuit in the United States against Canada-based Bombardier Aerospace, which made the airplane, General Motors, which made the engine, and the airline.

A compensation settlement was initially agreed to by all three companies, but was later rejected by China Eastern, prompting the US judge hearing the case to suggest the plaintiffs take their fight to a Chinese court.

Hao said the lawsuit was filed in Beijing in 2009, and is the first class action case concerning an air crash ever heard in China.


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