Survivors of bridge collapse intend to sue Israeli officials

SYDNEY, Nov. 25 (JTA) – More than 40 Australian survivors of July’s Maccabiah Games’ bridge collapse have announced that they will sue Israeli officials. The survivors will also sue the Maccabi World Union, which organized the Games, and the company that built the bridge, according to lawyer Peter Redlich, who said Tuesday that he will represent most of the injured. He described the bridge collapse as the result of the most “gross example of negligence” he has seen in 40 years of dealing with such cases. Two Australian athletes were immediately killed July 14 and hundreds of other participants at the Games injured when a pedestrian bridge collapsed during the opening ceremony at the Ramat Gan stadium, plunging scores of people into the Yarkon River. Two more Australians died weeks later as a result of complications that medical officials linked to contaminants in the river water. Redlich said all his clients had suffered physical injuries, and that many were also suffering psychological trauma. Other suits may be filed by families of the athletes who died, and by the family of Sasha Elterman, 15, who has been hospitalized with a brain abscess that doctors say was caused by the polluted water. Maccabi Australia president Tom Goldman responded to news of the proposed suit, saying, “Nobody has really stood up and been held accountable and responsible, and it has to be done.” “It is close to four-and-a-half months,” since the accident, he added. “That’s a long time.” Goldman, who recently returned from Israel, said Israel and the Maccabi World Union signed an agreement to give a $1 million loan to help the Australian team members. The loan will be repaid after the injured and families of those killed receive compensation payments, he said.

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