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KOROR, Palau (October 30, 1998 - Tia Belau News)---The Republic of Palau has been spared many years of litigation over the September 26, 1996 Koror-Babeldaob (KB) Bridge collapse.

Companies -- which the government and beneficiaries of those who died or were injured sued for over 100 million dollars -- settled out of court for $18.1 million.

The companies include VSL Guam, Black Construction, and others involved in repairing the bridge before its collapse.

The money was paid on Monday, October 5 and has been received by the Plaintiffs according to Temmy Shmutt, Chief of Staff for President Kuniwo Nakamura.

Some of the companies which paid the settlement have sued third parties involved in the original construction of the bridge about 20 years ago.

The breakdown of the payment is as follows: $17.355 million to the Republic, $445,500 to the estate of James K. Rengiil, and $300,000 to the estate of one Filipino who died and to the beneficiaries of five other Filipinos who were injured.

Out of the $17.355 to the Republic, $4.366 million was paid to the government lawyers from San Francisco and $13.189 million went to the government coffers.

The money has been invested and its disposition awaits a policy decision by the OEK and the President, according to President's office.

In a related development, President Nakamura is waiting for OEK action on the $1.8 million appropriation for demolition and clearing of the collapsed bridge at Renrak. The funding passed the House and is now before the Senate.

The President's Office also disclosed that a survey team dispatched by the Japanese government will be in the country soon to survey the fallen bridge site and pursue discussions with Palau officials concerning Palau's request to Japan to finance the construction of a replacement bridge at an estimated costs of $30 million.

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