Hungary tourist boat accident: More bodies found as vessel is raised

Written by on June 11, 2019

At least four more bodies have been recovered as salvage crews raised the wreck of a tourist boat that sank on the Danube in Budapest last month.

Divers entered the boat as a floating crane slowly brought it to the surface.

The Mermaid was carrying South Korean tourists when it was in collision with a cruise ship and capsized, leaving 20 people dead and eight others missing.

Recovery efforts by Hungarian and South Korean teams have been hampered by high water levels in the Danube.

Footage from the scene on Tuesday morning showed the cabin and upper deck of the boat emerge from the water and divers then carry out a search for victims still trapped inside.

The boat is raised to the surface. 11 June 2019
Image captionHoists lifted the boat and then water was pumped out from the hull

Pumps then removed water from the hull and the rest of the 70-year-old boat was slowly brought to the surface. The whole operation is expected to take several hours.

The bodies recovered are believed to be those of the boat’s Hungarian captain and three South Koreans including a six-year-old girl – the only child who died in the accident – the BBC’s Budapest correspondent Nick Thorpe says.

Crowds lined the nearby Margaret Bridge to watch the operation.

“It is the first time (I came here) after the tragic event,” said Budapest resident Janos Kadar.

“It is very upsetting to think that this could have happened, such tragic events.”

How did the accident happen?

The Viking Sigyn cruise ship struck the Mermaid just after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on 29 May as both vessels passed under the Margaret Bridge.

Seven of the 35 people on board were rescued and several bodies quickly recovered, but others were swept away in the swollen river or trapped inside the boat.

Media captionThe tour boat sank seconds after a collision with another vessel

Police said the boat had sunk within seven seconds of the collision.

“The current was so fast and people were floating away,” one survivor, identified only by her surname Jung, told Yonhap.

More bodies were recovered in the following days, with one pulled from the Danube more than 100km (60 miles) downstream. Nineteen South Korean tourists and a Hungarian crewman are so far confirmed to have died.

It was the worst disaster on the Danube – Europe’s second-longest river – in more than 50 years.

What about the investigation?

Once fully out of the water, the wreck of the Mermaid will be taken to a secure location and examined by police, who have launched a criminal investigation.

The Viking Sigyn’s captain, named as 64-year-old Ukrainian national Yuriy C, has been detained on suspicion of reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties. His lawyers have said he is devastated but did nothing wrong.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said his government will co-operate with Hungarian authorities “to thoroughly investigate the incident”.

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