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Paris court rules against victims of Estonia boat crash which killed 852

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By Reuters
A model of the MS Estonia at the maritime museum of Tallinn
A model of the MS Estonia at the maritime museum of Tallinn   -   Copyright  Stan Shebs (Creative Commons by 3.0)

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

The case was brought by the more than 1,000 survivors and relatives of the victims of the disaster which remains one of the worst in European maritime history.

The MS Estonia car ferry connecting the Estonian capital of Tallinn with Stockholm in Sweden sank on28 September 1994 which killed 852 people.

They sought €40.8m (£36.6m) from the French agency Bureau Veritas that deemed the ship seaworthy and the German shipbuilder Meyer-Werft.

Tage Olsin (Creative Commons by 2.0)
A memorial to the victims of the MS Estonia disaster in SwedenTage Olsin (Creative Commons by 2.0)

But the French court in the western suburb of Nanterre threw out the claim, citing a lack of "intentional fault" attributable to either company in the case, the second-deadliest peacetime sinking of a European ship after the Titanic.

Francois Lombrez, a lawyer who represents relatives in the case said it was "disappointing".

An investigation that concluded in 1997 found that the 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.

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