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South Korean court orders compensation to Sewol ferry survivors

SEOUL, Jan. 14 (UPI) — A South Korean court ordered the government and a ferry company to compensate survivors of a 2014 ferry sinking for their mental suffering.

The Suwon District Court ruled Monday in favor of 20 victims and their family members in their compensation lawsuit against the South Korean government and Cheonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the Sewol ferry.

The court acknowledged that the government and the ferry operator were negligent in their rescue operations and caused survivors to experience severe psychological stress in the deadly ferry sinking that killed 304 passengers, mostly high school students on a school trip.

A total of 172 passengers were rescued from the ferry, which capsized off South Korea’s southern coast on April 16, 2014.

The government and the ship’s crew were accused of failing to act promptly to rescue the passengers. The ferry captain and other key crew members were charged with negligence.

The court ordered the state and the ferry company to pay $ 71,200 to each of the 20 survivors, from $ 3,560 up to $ 14,245 to immediate family members of the student survivors and from $ 1,780 up to $ 28,490 to family members of other survivors.

“The survivors suffered extreme fear in the sinking ferry and experienced a great difficulty as they weren’t properly notified of a way to escape,” the court said.

“The survivors and their families suffered psychological symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety,” it said.

Last year, a Seoul court ruled the state and the ferry operator pay $ 177,000 to each of the victims, plus extra to family members in consolation payments, in a compensation suit filed by family members of the ferry victims who died.

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