A total of €8.5m in compensation has been distributed to the victims of the Enschede firework factory explosion, seven years after the disaster in which 23 people were killed.
The string of explosions at the firework storage bunker in the heart of a residential area sent massive fireballs into the sky, injuring over 1,000 people and destroying 1,500 homes in May 2000.
The organisation in charge of distributing the compensation, the UPV, has been busy since 2002 assessing 3,519 claims. In total, it has awarded 300 people cash for incurring extra costs, 136 people money for loss of income, and 1,477 people compensation for health problems.
It had been particularly hard to assess compensation claims for psychiatric complaints, the UPV said. This was partly due to a lack of expertise and partly because many people in the area where the blast happened already had mental health problems before the explosion.
However, the UPV criticised the amount of time it had taken to assess individual claims and go through ensuing legal procedures. It said too that the threshold for compensation could have been lower.
The exact cause of the first explosion has never been properly determined. The storage company’s two managers were sentenced to 15 months in jail for breaking safety regulations, dealing in illegal fireworks and causing death by neglect.