Wednesday 17 July 2019

Search goes on for 21 lost in Danube sinking

Women pray to mourn the victims of a ship accident, which killed several people on the Danube river, in Budapest, Hungary, May 31, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Bernadett Szabo
Women pray to mourn the victims of a ship accident, which killed several people on the Danube river, in Budapest, Hungary, May 31, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

Pablo Gorondi

Finding the bodies of 21 people missing from a tourist boat that sank on the Danube in Budapest could take a "protracted" search, Hungarian authorities say.

Seven people have been confirmed dead so far and seven were rescued from the stricken boat.

The disaster happened on Wednesday when the boat, carrying South Korean tourists, was rammed by a cruise ship.

Nineteen tourists and two crew members, the captain and his assistant, are missing.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha yesterday went to the scene to meet rescue and search officials.

"We have to prepare for a protracted search," Mr Szijjarto said. He added that authorities are expecting help from Serbia, where the Danube flows after Hungary.

"It is not unimaginable that we will need to depend on them in the coming days."

Divers went into the river but were unable to inspect the wreckage due to the extremely murky waters and heavy currents from recent rain.

Officials said it could take days to recover the 70-year-old boat, built in the former Soviet Union. "The wreck is located more than six metres deep and the water level continues to rise because of the expected rainfall," Mr Szijjarto added.

Hungarian police have detained and questioned the captain of the Viking Sigyn river cruise ship.

Mr Szijjarto said the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain, identified only as Yuriy C, protested being considered a suspect. The ship's owner "has promised to fully co-operate with the investigation".

Irish Independent

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