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Plane crash victims' parents seek answers

By Yan Yiqi and Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

08:09, July 19, 2013

Representatives from Asiana Airlines' Foreign Relations and Alliance Department meet with parents of the Chinese students who were on Asiana Flight 214, which crash-landed in San Francisco on July 6, on Wednesday in Quzhou, Zhejiang province. (Provided to China Daily)

Asiana Airlines apologizes but compensation will take time

The families of Chinese passengers on the Asiana Airlines jetliner that crash-landed in San Francisco on July 6 said they are not satisfied with the airline's moves to resolve the issues, especially compensation.

However, legal experts said that compensation will depend on the results of the accident investigation, which could take up to two years.

Lawyers and parents of Jiangshan Middle School students who were on board the jet met Asiana Airlines representatives on Wednesday after company officials went to Quzhou, Zhejiang province to apologize and discuss compensation.

It was the first meeting between airline officials and the Chinese passengers' parents since the July 6 accident, which killed three Chinese students and seriously injured another who is still in a US hospital.

But the two sides are a long way from an agreement.

Kim Sae-yong, general manager of the airliner's Foreign Relations and Alliance Department, said Asiana does not have a detailed compensation offer yet.

He said the company will work out a plan as soon as possible, and that the passengers' nationalities will not determine the proposed compensation.

"All passengers aboard will be treated equally under international regulations," said Kim, who, along with other representatives, apologized to the parents before the meeting started.

Kim declined to comment on the responsibility of the accident, stating that the case is still being investigated.

Hao Junbo, a lawyer for the students, said it was disappointing that the company did not have a clear compensation proposal yet.

"They should at least have had a primary plan for the compensation, but they didn't," Hao said.

Hao said one benefit of the meeting was that the Jiangshan families were able to express their concerns to Asiana officials.

Most parents at the meeting said they will not accept the apology because the company failed to act decisively after the accident.

Li Yaping, the mother of one of the students, said that she did not see any sincere desire from the company to resolve the issues.

"The phrase I heard the most during the meeting is ‘as soon as possible', but (Kim) didn't answer questions we cared about the most," Li said. "Eleven days have passed since the crash, and they could not even offer a clear compensation plan."

Li said that after the accident, her daughter had to wait in the airport for almost 10 hours before she got her dinner and another two hours after that to be sent to a hotel.

"Weren't they supposed to take care of the passengers as soon as possible after the accident? My daughter has had nightmares every day since the accident, and I don't know whether it will continue to affect her for a very long time. How can I forgive them?" she said.

Psychologists said the students are likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing such a life-threatening disaster.

Long-time lawsuits

Hao said that although Kim promised a solution will be offered as soon as possible, it will still be some time.

"The meeting is very preliminary, and basically served as a means for Asiana Airlines to learn the parents' demands. Detailed negotiations over compensation will not take place soon," he said.

Other legal experts agreed that compensation depends on the progress of negotiations and the investigation.

"If some parents accept the offered compensation, the two sides could reach an agreement soon. If they don't, they can resort to legal action, which could last for a long time," said Jiang Wei, an attorney from the Shanghai Wanlian Law Firm.

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