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Typhoon Morakot victims lose compensation case
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-25 06:10 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Relatives of the victims of Typhoon Morakot in the Greater Kaohsiung area of Hsiaolin lost their case for government compensation Friday.

The relatives of 175 out of 462 Hsiaolin residents who died in the 2009 disaster had wanted a total of NT$590 million (US$19.4 million) in compensation from the Kaohsiung City Government because they claimed officials had not done their duty.

However, the Kaohsiung District Court ruled Friday against their two separate claims.

Typhoon Morakot left a trail of destruction across Kaohsiung County, which later became part of Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County in August 2009, causing several landslides and the destruction of entire villages, including Hsiaolin. The government of President Ma Ying-jeou and then-Premier Liu Chao-shiuan came under heavy fire for responding too slowly to the disaster.

Before the verdict, representatives of the Hsiaolin victims said they would even accept compensation of only NT$1, but they described the court ruling as “completely unacceptable.”

The court had failed to pay attention to earlier rulings by the Control Yuan, the nation’s top government watchdog body, while a local mayor had also been impeached for negligence, the activists said.

After the village was destroyed and Kaohsiung district prosecutors concluded in 2010 that the deaths were the result of a natural disaster and not of human negligence, the Hsiaolin survivors first filed a NT$2.4 billion (US$79 million) compensation demand with the Kaohsiung City Government. When that case was rejected, they turned to the Kaohsiung District Court.

In their statement after Friday’s verdict, they accused officials of protecting each other’s back and said they would continue their case to the end.

Shortly after the disaster, residents hinted that a pipeline project to bring water from another area and erosion caused by hillside plantations might have been responsible for the fatal mudslides, but investigators identified torrential rain as the main culprit.

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