Zolitude disaster victims' group agrees to share out €900,000

People injured during Latvia's worst peacetime disaster may share a €900,000 fund from the Maxima supermarket chain, LSM's Latvian service reports August 21, citing information from the LETA news agency.

Maxima, the operators of a store in which the roof collapsed in 2014 with the loss of 54 lives, has reportedly agreed to pay the sum to the "Zolitūde 21.11" group representing the families of the dead and injured.

The agreement provides for different levels of payment according to the seriousness of injuries sustained, ranging from €75,000 per person for those severely injured to €5,000 for those with minor injuries.

The gravity of the injuries suffered is to be determined by the findings of the Center for Forensic Medical Examination in the Zolitude Tragedy Criminal Case.

Maxima Latvija's head Andris Vilcmeiers said: "We are grateful to the victims' representatives for constructive dialogue and work to find a solution to the provision of support to the physically injured. As a result of the negotiations, we have come up with a solution to support physically injured people."

"Zolitūde 21.11." head Regīna Ločmele-Luņova said the decision of whether or not to accept the compensation offered by Maxima rests with each individual family.

 points out that the agreement reached is proof that the company is fulfilling its previous commitment to provide support to victims of traumatic physical injuries. She stresses that accepting this support is a free choice for each victim.

The sum is in addition to payments to be made to the families of those killed, with negotiations continuing on the basis that €100,000 per victim might be paid to the families of the deceased.

In total, Maxima has reserved around 5 million euros for compensation claims arising from the disaster, the company says.

However, Aldis Gobzems, a lawyer representing victims of the tragedy said he had not been made aware of any new agreement on compensation in advance and questioned whether the agreement on the injured might be a way for the company to minimise its costs with several cases related to the disaster still making their ways through the court system.

As previously reported, the collapse of the flagship Maxima store in Zolitude, Riga, on November 21, 2013, saw 54 people lose their lives, including three rescuers. Dozens were injured. The prosecutor's office has recognized 263 people as victims of the collapse.

Maxima's own account of the disaster and the money it has spent since can be read HERE (in Latvian).

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