Taiwan consumer group offers to file class action over explosions

Taiwan consumer group offers to file class action over explosions
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's Consumers' Foundation (CF) yesterday offered to organise and file a class action suit for the victims of Saturday's colour dust explosion in New Taipei City, estimating that it could seek compensation ranging from NT$3-4 billion. Government officials, however, stated that it could be too early to discuss a suit as many victims are still undergoing treatment in hospitals.

CF Vice Chairman You Kai-hsiung stated during a press conference held yesterday that the organisation could help organise the suit as well as defray the estimated NT$6,600 in individual legal fees in order to file the suit. The CF said that it had already received phone calls from 30 to 40 individuals, and placed a preliminary estimate for compensation sought at NT$3-4 billion. Other reports indicate the amount could go as high as NT5 billion. It would represent the class action suit with the highest claim to be handled by the consumer advocacy group. Most recently, it has aided consumers in suits pertaining to numerous tainted food scandals.

The Executive Yuan's Consumer Protection Committee (CPC) and New Taipei City's Legal Affairs Department both stated they were unaware of the CF's proposal. A CPC official said that it remained to be determined whether a class action suit would ultimately require legal assistance from the CF and that meetings between government and civil organisations had yet to take place.

Number in Critical Condition Rises

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) reported yesterday that the number of patients from the blast in critical condition rose to 211, up from 184 on Thursday. A total of 449 patients are receiving treatment in hospitals as far away as Taichung, with 255 in intensive care.

Officials at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital confirmed that 21 patients receiving treatment there are breathing with the aid of ventilation tubes. Twenty-five patients there are in "severely critical condition," many with second- and third-degree burns covering 50 to 60 per cent of their bodies.

New Taipei City withdrew NT$73.4 million from a fund it created for the victims for hospital expenditures. Patients receiving treatment in intensive care will be reimbursed NT$200,000 per day, per person, while the number is NT$100,000 for patients receiving general treatment. Consolation funds (at NT$1 million, per person) for the families of two deceased victims will be made available today.

Festival, Fireworks Canceled Out of Respect of Victims

Meanwhile, New Taipei City officials announced that the Gongliao Ho-Hai Yuan Rock Festival (originally slated to run from July 24 to 26) would be cancelled this year out of respect for the victims of Saturday's blast. In addition, Taitung's mayor also announced the cancellation of the high-altitude fireworks display at its annual Makapahay Festival.

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