Victims' families sign settlements

Families of all but one victim of a tour bus fire in Taiwan have signed settlement agreements with insurance companies, officials said on Tuesday. But some relatives expressed outrage, saying they had been left with no choice but to sign.

Twenty-four people from the mainland were killed in the fiery bus crash last week.

An investigation is underway.

Chang Shi-chung, deputy director-general of the "Ministry of Transportation and Communications Tourism Bureau" said on Tuesday that families of 23 victims had signed cremation and settlement agreements.

One victim's family entrusted the case to lawyers and declined to sign, Chang said, adding that the bureau "fully respected the decision".

Chang said that 52 relatives and 19 Chinese officials returned to Liaoning province late Tuesday afternoon.

Relatives of the 24 mainland victims will be provided compensation of around NT$6.64 million ($210,000) each, Chang said.

According to Wang Yi, the brother of one victim, most of the families had not wanted to sign the agreements until the investigation yielded answers.

But because their visit permits expire on Thursday, after which their accommodation fee would not be covered by the travel agency, the families were "left with no choice but to settle", Wang said.

Frank Fan, "deputy minister of transportation and communications", said the authorities would be asked to be lenient regarding entry permits if the families needed more time to consider their options. If the families wish to extend their stay in Taiwan, travel agencies will pay for their accommodation, he said.


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