29 lodge civil court action against company over gas tank train blast in Bulgaria’s Hitrino

Twenty-nine people have lodged civil claims in court against the Bulmarket company for compensation of a total of more than 10 million leva (about five million euro) because of the December 2016 explosion in the Bulgarian town of Hitrino, that left seven people dead, several injured and that caused extensive property damage.

Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said on August 6 that the investigation into the Hitrino blast, in which a gas tank train exploded as it was entering the town’s railway station, was not yet complete.

One of prosecutors’ leading theories about the cause of the explosion was the train was going too fast, the report said.

Bulmarket, the owner of the train, has been conducting its own investigation.

The civil claims against the company are based on the assertion that, though the speed limit for trains in that stretch of railway line is 40km/h, the train was travelling at about 80km/h.

Nikolai Tsachev, one of those seriously injured in the Hitrino gas tank train explosion, said that he was “totally disabled”. “There must be a way for us to get what we deserve,” he said.

His house was in ruins and construction of a new one has not yet begun. He is living in a trailer where the summer heat is unbearable. Tsachev had lost hope of getting justice, the report said.

Another claimant in Tassim Remzi. He and his mother were severely injured in the explosion.

“I expect to get something, at least for the blood that I shed, that stained the walls of the house and my clothes. I expect something,” Remzi said.

He had still not overcome the stress, “but I am always trying to forget it,” he said.

Halise Ahmedova said: “I am still afraid, and I dream of that tragic morning, that left burn scars on my skin. No, the money will not calm the pain, nor ourselves, but we have to get these benefits, we must”.

The company has issued an assurance that it will compensate the victims of the accident, the report said.

The December 2016 Hitrino disaster saw high-profile government action at the time, including the conducting of a highly hazardous operation to remove the gas from the unexploded tanks and then to clear away the tanks themselves.

It was followed by successful civil society campaigns to raise funds to assist the victims.

In the eight months since the accident, however, some have accused national and local authorities of failing to move fast enough to help the victims rebuild their lives.




The Sofia Globe staff

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