Court rejects compensation claim over ferry disaster that killed 852 people

19 July 2019, 15:45 | Updated: 19 July 2019, 16:33

A court in Paris has rejected a compensation claim related to the 1994 sinking of an Estonian ferry, which killed 852 people.

Survivors and relatives of victims were demanding £36.5m from Bureau Veritas, the French agency that deemed the ship seaworthy, and the German shipbuilder Meyer-Werft.

Their claim was thrown out because the court said there was a lack of "intentional fault" attributable to either company.

The tragedy is the second-deadliest peacetime sinking of a European ship after the Titanic.

Henning Witte, a German lawyer who represented relatives in the case, said the ruling was "of course, a disappointment", adding: "The circus continues. It is absolutely scandalous how the events around the Estonia disaster are being ignored, and especially the relatives."

The MS Estonia was travelling from the Tallinn to Stockholm in Sweden on 28 September 1994 when disaster struck.

A total of 138 people were rescued alive, but one of them died later in hospital.

In 1997, an investigation concluded that locks on the ferry's front, the prow door, had not held up to the strain of the waves, causing water to flood the car deck.

The case has been making its way through French courts since 1996, and had been retried on appeal twice.