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Europe

Court Settlement Reached in Austrian Cable Car Fire

The family members of victims and survivors of a deadly cable car fire in the Austrian ski resort of Kaprun have agreed to a 13.9 million euro ($21.5 million) settlement.

Smoke pours from the upward mouth of the tunnel where a cable car caught fire

It has taken eight years to reach a settlement

A financial settlement was reached with all 451 claimants, the chair of a mediation commission announced Tuesday, June 17.

The state of Austria, the cable car operator and an insurance company agreed to the settlement last week, said Klaus Liebscher, chairman of the mediation commission set up by the Austrian Justice Ministry.

Yet this week 23 Japanese victims' family members withdrew their agreements through their Japanese lawyer, claiming that the settlement "did not respect the victim's dignity," Liebscher said.

But under the settlement, it was not possible to withdraw given agreements, Liebscher said.

Tragic tunnel fire

On Nov. 11, 2000, a cable car transporting skiers to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier caught fire in a tunnel, leading to the death of 155 people who either burnt to death in the cable car or suffocated when attempting to flee the tunnel. Only 12 passengers survived.

Among the victims were 92 Austrians, 37 Germans, 10 Japanese and eight US citizens. Two trials in Austria against 16 defendants - the cable car operators, train manufacturers and government officials led to acquittals of all defendants. Court proceedings in the US are continuing.

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