Jan. 27 - An agreement made with several Italian consumer groups to pay passengers on the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia about 11 thousand euros each is facing criticism in some quarters as insufficient. Matt Cowan reports.
Even as efforts to search the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia continue, a new controversy is unfolding over the level of compensation being offered to passengers who lived through the disaster. Several Italian consumer groups have signed up to an agreement with Costa Cruises which will see it reimburse passengers for travel expenses and issue a payment to each of about 11 thousand euros. The offer applies to all passenger who suffered no personal injury. Injured passengers are being dealt with seperately. The president of the Italian Association of Tour Operators Roberto Corbella says it should be applauded. SOUNDBITE: PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN ASSOCIATION OF TOUR OPERATORS (ASTOI), ROBERTO CORBELLA SAYING (Italian): "It is an historic agreement. Firstly because of the speed in which it has been reached, only two weeks after the incident." Codacons, a consumer group that did not sign the agreement, is urging passengers to pass up the deal and instead undergo a check to see if they suffered any psychological trauma. It's collecting names with the aim of filing a class action suit in Miami against parent company Carnival, requesting 125,000 euros for each passenger. U.S. personal injury lawyer John Arthur Eaves argues that such an approach is misguided and that passengers should take up individual cases. SOUNDBITE: JOHN ARTHUR EAVES, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER SAYING (English) "The class action is not the right tool for this case. In this case people need to be treated like individuals. Everyone in this boat had different damages. You had some people that got off the boat and it was just a loss of one day for them, they will never suffer any more problems. We had other people that will be traumatised for a long time and then of course we all understand that there will be people who will be traumatised for a lifetime, especially the family members, who will never see their loved ones." Potential claimants have a week to accept the terms of the compensation deal. Matt Cowan, Reuters