Budapest, July 4 (MTI) – The families of the four military explosives experts who were killed when a WW2 bomb exploded on a former bombing range in eastern Hungary on Friday are expected to receive over 10 million forints (EUR 31,560) each in compensation, daily Magyar Idők said on Monday.
The amount of the compensation will be determined by the defence minister and paid directly by the defence ministry as Hungarian soldiers have been uninsured for the past four years.
Zoltan Szendrei, deputy head of the defence union, told the paper that military insurance plans were cancelled under former Defence Minister Csaba Hende on the grounds that insurance costs were too high relative to the risk of accidents. Now it is the defence ministry that compensates families in case of accidents, Szendrei said.
The ministry has said that the Hungarian Armed Forces will cover the funeral costs and take care of the widows’ pensions and orphan support for the surviving family members.
A fifth technician suffered serious but not critical injuries in the explosion and is now in stable condition.
The Socialist Party said support for the victims’ families should be guaranteed by law rather than subject to the minister’s discretion. In a statement, the party called it “unacceptable” that military personnel were no longer insured, and argued that soldiers “have the right to know what assistance families left behind can expect”.
The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) demanded that insurance should be available for all military personell.
DK deputy leader Ágnes Vadai said that the compensation to be paid to families of the victims is “not a favour but the least that can be done for their service to the homeland”.
The Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party also suggested that all military and police staff should be insured not as an option but on a mandatory basis. PM spokesman Bence Tordai called it “scandalous” that members of the military had no insurance and urged government action.
In a statement, the defence ministry said that the Hungarian army took full responsibility for its members and “even without an insurance the (fifth) soldier injured in last Friday’s accident and his family members will not lose out”. The employer is to pay full compensation for lost revenue, costs incurred and material damages, as well as injury compensation in a single payment or in the form of an allowance, the statement said.
Insurance policies available up to January 1, 2012 had paid limited amounts for accidents or damage, while the amounts the army has provided “in the majority of cases” were “considerably larger”, the ministry said, adding that the fees had not been comparable to compensation paid out by insurance companies.
Ruling Fidesz called on the opposition parties “not to exploit the victims for political gain”. Fidesz confirmed to MTI in a statement that the Hungarian military would pay full compensation to the families and “the amount is expected to be higher than the earlier insurance”. Fidesz also pledged to help the families of the victims.