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SYDNEY, Australia-A fatal landslide at Thredbo Ski Resort in Australia could lead to third-party liability, workers compensation, business interruption and property damage claims.
The Snowy Mountains resort, which is owned by Kosciusko Thredbo Operations Pty. Ltd., is 125 miles south of Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory.
Nineteen people, mostly Thredbo staff and senior resort executives, were entombed when a landslide destroyed two lodges at the resort on July 30. There was only one survivor, a ski instructor who was rescued after 65 hours under the rubble.
Temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit combined with the threat of additional landslides to hamper search and rescue operations.
The cause of the landslide, which sent the privately owned Carrinya Lodge crashing into Bimbadeen Lodge, destroying both and scattering debris hundreds of feet, has yet to be determined.
Carrinya Lodge is owned by Brindabella Ski Club Pty. Ltd., a group of Canberra-based individuals. The Bimbadeen staff lodge is owned by Kosciusko Thredbo's parent company, Amalgamated Holdings Pty. Ltd.
Bruce Yahl, Sydney-based Amalgamated Holdings' corporate counsel, would not disclose details of the company's insurance policies or discuss existing coverage.
"Insurance and liability issues will be determined by the results of the coroner's inquest," he said.
It could be as long as three to four months before the inquest results are made public.
The incident has attracted widespread publicity and criticism that the lodges were built in a landslide prone area.
Sydney-based Marsh & McLennan Pty. Ltd. is Amalgamated Holdings' insurance broker.
Ross Baker, claims officer for M&M, would not comment on Amalgamated Holdings' insurers.
A spokeswoman for Kosciusko Thredbo said the resort was not yet concerned with insurance issues since recovering those trapped was a greater priority.
Graeme Berwick, executive director of the risk transfer group at Sydney-based broker Willis Corroon Richard Oliver Pty. Ltd., who was not involved in placing Thredbo's coverage, said he expects Amalgamated Holdings to face mostly workers comp and third-party liability claims from the incident. He noted that a coroner's inquiry still had to determine responsibility for the accident and decide whether or not any parties had been negligent.
Mr. Berwick speculated the incident would generate business interruption claims, not only from immediate business lost, but from future tourists canceling holidays.
Workers compensation claims could also occur, and payments to parties would be determined by the state workers comp legislation.
According to Thredbo's media unit, more than 500 rescue workers from throughout Australia rushed to the scene to search around the clock for survivors.
Rescuers lifted massive cement slabs by crane and dug access tunnels in their efforts to find survivors, she said.