Victims of deadly Vrbětice blast will receive compensation

The explosion, believed to have been caused by Russian intelligence operatives, led to thousands of compensation applications. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 14.04.2022 11:34:00 (updated on 14.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Two huge explosions at an ammunitions depot in Vrbětice, Moravia in 2014 killed two people and led to thousands of applications for compensation from others affected by the blasts.

A spokesperson from the Czech Interior Ministry told reporters yesterday that the ministry has so far paid out CZK 269 million crowns to those hit by the blasts. 8,500 applications for compensation were made and around 93 percent of these have been settled.

A huge wave of applications for compensation followed a law on compensation specifically for the explosions valid since the start of 2022. Claims can still be submitted until June 30. Positive decisions have been granted to around 7,900 of the applications so far submitted, and 7,300 of these have already been paid out.

Only 51 cases have been rejected, and four had to be canceled due to the death of the applicant.

Approval depends on having had a permanent residency address in any of the municipalities affected by the explosion, including Vrbětice itself along with the villages Bohuslavice nad Vláří, Haluzice, Lipová, Vlachovice, and Slavičín, between October 2014 and October 2020.

The conditions for qualifying for compensation were contested by the Mayors and Independents (STAN) parliamentary group, on the grounds that people who were living in the area but had a permanent residency address elsewhere are not able to make claims.

The authorities of the affected municipalities can also ask for compensation in their own right and may receive a total of around CZK 309.5 million. The wider Zlín Region may receive CZK 59 million. Sums being paid out to local authorities are determined based on the tax contributions made by each.

What happened at Vrbětice?

The arms depot explosions at Vrbětice killed two people and affected a total area of 1,319 hectares, with 341 hectares directly hit by the blasts. The first explosion took place on October 16, 2014, destroying warehouse 16, which contained 58 tons of ammunition. The second explosion, on December 3, 2014, destroyed 98 tons of ammunition in warehouse 12.

Inhabitants of surrounding areas had to be evacuated several times. A total of 355 smaller explosions were heard coming from the depot well into December 2014.

Last April, the Czech government caused international shock by declaring a belief that Russian secret service operatives were responsible for the explosions. A manhunt was announced for Alexandr Miškin and Anatolij Čepigov, the same two Russian spies blamed for the infamous Salisbury poisoning incident in the United Kingdom in 2018.

The incident led to a diplomatic rift which saw the immediate expulsion of 18 Russian embassy workers and subsequent further reductions in the Russian diplomatic presence in Czechia and the Czech diplomatic presence in Moscow.

Since the war in Ukraine began, diplomatic ties between the Czech Republic and Russia have deteriorated still further. Only six diplomatic staff now work at Russia’s huge embassy in Prague 6.

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