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U.S., Japan near settlement in sub accident

Divers survey the hull of the Ehime Maru last November.
Divers survey the hull of the Ehime Maru last November.  

From Yoko Wakatsuki

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- The Japanese prefecture of Ehime is close to a settlement with the U.S. Navy over the sinking of the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing boat hit last year by a surfacing U.S. submarine, a prefecture spokesman said Monday.

Japanese media reports have speculated the amount will fall between $8.5 million to $10 million, but officials would not confirm the figure.

"We are very close to striking an agreement, but the settlement agreement has not been finalized yet," said an official for the prefecture, one of the regional districts in Japan administered by a governor.

USS Greeneville: Collision at sea 

"And we are not disclosing the settlement until the amount of the agreement has been finalized."

The two sides have almost settled on a U.S. dollar-based amount but not on the yen-based one, the official said. Because of widely fluctuating exchange rates, settlement amounts are fixed independently in each currency.

The settlement would be compensation for the Ehime Maru ship and various costs incurred in the accident.

Nine people aboard the Ehime Maru, including four high school students, were killed when the USS Greeneville struck it February 9, 2001, during an emergency ascent drill on the naval vessel off the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Twenty-six others on the ship were rescued.

Attorneys of the victims' families are negotiating a separate compensation agreement.




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