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Skyguide reaches deal with air crash relatives

A lone air traffic controller was on duty on the night of the crash

(swissinfo.ch)

The Swiss air traffic control agency, Skyguide, says it has reached a settlement with the families of Russian children killed in a mid-air collision two years ago.

The announcement came the day before the second anniversary of the July 1, 2002, crash of a Russian passenger plane and a cargo jet in Swiss-controlled airspace, in which 71 people died.

Last month Skyguide admitted it was partly to blame for the collision.

Just one air traffic controller was on duty at the time of the accident, which occurred over Überlingen in southern Germany.

German lawyer Michael Witti, acting for 28 families of victims, said Skyguide had agreed to pay a “low, six-figure US dollars” sum as part of an out-of-court settlement.

Skyguide confirmed a settlement had been reached, but said it applied to only 25 of the 28 victims’ families.

"Relief"

"After more than a year of negotiations, the prevailing feeling on all sides is one of relief," Witti said in a statement.

"As far as the legal aspects go, it's over. Psychologically, it's helping [the families] to find finality."

Last November Skyguide started making compensation payouts to relatives of some of those who died in the crash, after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the families of 12 victims.

But it stressed that work was ongoing to agree compensation with other victims' relatives.

A report published in May by German investigators laid blame for the collision at Skyguide's door, saying human error was the main cause.

It found that the solitary Swiss air traffic controller on duty on the night of the crash gave the planes instructions to avoid a crash only 43 seconds before impact.

His instructions also contradicted those of the planes' onboard warning systems.

The Skyguide controller was stabbed to death outside his home in February.

A Russian man, who lost his wife and both children in the crash, is the chief suspect.

swissinfo with agencies

uberlingen

Skyguide says a deal has been reached with 25 of the 28 families of victims of the Überlingen crash.

A German lawyer representing the families says they will each receive a "low, six-figure US dollar" sum.

Skyguide last month admitted responsibility for errors which led to the crash.

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