The Chinese government has announced that families of the thirty-five victims known to have perished in the Jiwei Mountain landslide are each to receive 200,000 Yuan (29,200 US dollars) in wrongful death accident compensation.
The decision to pay wrongful death accident compensation was made following an investigation into the tragedy in Hongbao, Western China, in which the privately owned mining company, Sanlian, was found to have ignored government warnings of “possible geological dangers”. Claims that Sanlian had continued a program of excessive drilling and mining were confirmed when it was discovered that the company failed to adhere to the terms of their operating licence.
Officials announcing the news of the wrongful death compensation settlements stated that the amounts represented the standard compensation payments for fatalities from negligent accidents and took into consideration that the government had already offered the villagers of Hongbao 5,000 Yuan to move in 2003 because of the known unstable terrain. It was also revealed that one of the mine´s owners – Su Xianyun – had been taken into police custody.
This followed a similar tragedy in 1994 in which seventy-nine people were killed. At the time of the previous landslide the cause of the accident was attributed to the geology of the area and no wrongful death accident compensation awards were made. However government officials have now said that the investigation into the disaster may be re-opened to determine whether excessive mining was also responsible.