Relatives of 20 people killed in last year's China Eastern Airlines plane crash in Baotou, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have filed a civil suit in a U.S. court against the carrier as well as the manufacturers of the aircraft and its engine.
Flight MU5210 to Shanghai burst into flames less than a minute after takeoff from Baotou on Nov. 21 and plunged into a frozen lake, claiming the lives of all 47 passengers and six crew members on board and two people on the ground.
Shanghai businesswoman Gui Yaning, whose husband died in the crash, said in Beijing on Monday that more than 80 family members of 20 victims had jointly filed a suit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against General Electric, Bombardier, Bombardier Aero-space and China Eastern Airlines.
The plaintiffs are suing the manufacturers of the engine and the Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft for unspecified compensation over alleged defects in their products, and the carrier for its alleged failure to inspect, maintain and repair the aircraft.
Eighteen relatives have also signed a letter sent to the State Council’s crash investigation team, urging it to release the results of its investigation.
“We believe that after one year, the investigation report should have been finished,” the letter reads. “We hope the report will be released soon so the victims’ families can know the truth about the accident, take appropriate legal action and hold those who caused the accident responsible,” Gui was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying.
Under the regulations issued in 2000, investigation reports into plane crashes should be submitted to the State Council within 120 days of the incident. But almost a year after the crash, the industry watchdog, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, has yet to release its findings.
Gui alleged the airline was resorting to delaying tactics in the hope that the victims’ families would not seek compensation as time passed.
She said the airline “thought the incident is already in the past.” Family members said the carrier promised a year ago to let them know the cause of the crash by March, and asked them to sign an agreement, which deprived them of further compensation rights.
Gui’s lawyer, who declined to be named, said most of the families signed the agreement and received more than 210,000 yuan (US$26,080) from the airline, but at least eight families refused to sign.
(Shenzhen Daily November 3, 2005)