First court awards for ’99 quake

In the first compensation ruling concerning the 1999 Athens earthquake that killed 143 people, a court has awarded a total of 670,000 euros in response to two claims arising from the collapse of the Ricomex factory. According to the Athens court of first instance decision made public yesterday, the owners of the insulation material plant must pay 420,000 euros to the family of company driver Michalis Kendristakis, a father of two who was among the 39 people crushed to death in the factory ruins. Furthermore, the court awarded 250,000 euros to Ricomex clerk Evi Sophilou, who suffered severe injuries after spending 34 hours trapped under tons of debris. The court found that Sophilou’s mental health deteriorated as a result of her ordeal. «Her interest in life has diminished, she feels alienated from other people, weak and inadequate,» the ruling said. Sophilou had been seeking 3.5 million euros. More suits for millions of euros are now pending. In the past, Ricomex workers have clashed with claimants, saying that the company will close if forced to meet all the compensation demands.