A Chinese court has ordered a state-owned company to pay more than $65 million in compensation over an incident nearly eight years ago in which chemicals it was having transported on a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Airbus A330-300 leaked and destroyed the aircraft.

State-run media say a unit of China National Chemical Construction Corp was ordered yesterday by the Beijing high court to pay more than $65 million in compensation to five overseas insurers over the March 2000 incident.

 © Andrew Hunt/AirTeamImages.com

The official reports say the company's shipment had been declared as a non-toxic solid substance known as hydroxyquinoline when in fact it was a corrosive liquid substance known as oxalyl chloride.

Eighty canisters filled with the chemicals were sent on an MAS A330-300 that operated a regular passenger flight from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur on 15 March 2000. The canisters were due to have continued onward to Chennai in India.

Five airport workers fell ill as they were unloading baggage from the A330 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after one or more of the canisters leaked and chemicals spilled into the aircraft's cargo hold, resulting in extensive corrosion damage to the fuselage, wing box structure and landing gear.

The six-year-old aircraft, insured for more than $90 million, was declared a constructive total loss around a year after the incident following extensive inspections by Airbus and insurers.

In 2002 insurers and MAS filed a more than $80 million lawsuit in Beijing against the Chinese chemical company as well as a freight forwarder and hazardous materials transportation specialist for damages relating to the loss of the aircraft.

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Source: FlightGlobal.com