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Seoul gives 420m won to families of Sewol ferry victims

THE South Korean government said yesterday it would pay about 420 million won (£260,000) as compensation for each of the 250 students who died or remain missing from last year’s ferry disaster.

The families of 11 teachers who died in the disaster will each receive about 760m won (£465,000), the higher amount to account for lost income, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

Other passengers will receive between 150m and 600m won, depending on their age and income, it said.

But a group representing victims’ families complained that the government announcement was an attempt to divert attention from demands for an independent investigation into the incident.

“The families of the deceased will not take 4.2 trillion won let alone 420 million won if the probe for the real truth and the raising of the ship are not conducted properly,” Yoo Kyung Keun, who heads the victims’ families association, told Yonhap news agency.

More than two-thirds of the 476 passengers on board the doomed Sewol ferry were students on a school trip.

Many of them died trapped in the vessel following orders by the crew to stay in their cabins as it capsized and sank on April 16 last year while making a routine turn.

The vessel was later found to be defective, with additions made to increase passenger capacity making it top-heavy and unstable.

The ferry’s chief engineer is appealing his homicide conviction and 30-year prison term.

Fourteen other surviving crew members are also appealing their convictions.

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