China Eastern Airlines is facing a potential lawsuit for contamination and environmental pollution to a park where one of its planes crashed a year ago. The airline company and park administrators are in the midst of negotiations, but if talks fail, the park will likely sue for 105 million yuan (US$13 million) in compensation, according to Yu Wei, director of the administrative office of the park.
A China Eastern passenger plane carrying 47 passengers and six crew members crashed into the lake in Nanhai Park in Baotou, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, shortly after take-off on November 21 last year. All 53 onboard and two people on the ground died as a result.
The Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences released an evaluation paper on Monday saying that the accident resulted in economic losses valued at about 105 million yuan (US$13 million).
The crash also destroyed the lake's ecological system, largely reducing the variety of life forms in the lake, according to the report.
Moreover, the ensuing heavy oil spill seriously contaminated the park's wetland system.
China Eastern refused to comment on the matter.
According to Yu, the amount being asked for only covers direct economic losses. Total losses are much higher, he said.
Half of the harbor in the park was destroyed, Yu said. Most tourist boats and related facilities also burned down.
In April, China Eastern paid 2 million yuan (US$246,000) to Nanhai Park to help it resume operations, but that was too little, according to park officials.
A sticking point in compensation negotiations is that the park wants the airlines to compensate employees for the park's dismal business following the disaster.
Park officials also insist that the airlines pay for the reconstruction of restaurants.
In addition, 21 family members of crash victims have already filed a lawsuit in California, the United States, demanding compensation from Canadian plane manufacturer, Bombardier, and engine maker, GE, for product defects that they say caused the accident.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily November 22, 2005)