Tuesday 22 October 2019

Two more bodies recovered from sunken tour boat in Hungary

Nineteen of the 35 people on board are still missing, with nine confirmed dead and seven rescued.

Rescue team members work on a barge floating on the Danube (Laszlo Balogh/AP)
Rescue team members work on a barge floating on the Danube (Laszlo Balogh/AP)

By Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press

Divers have recovered two more bodies after a tour boat carrying South Korean tourists capsized last week following a collision with a river cruise ship, Hungarian officials said.

The agency leading the salvage operation said Hungarian divers found one body in the water during an inspection of the wreck and it was brought to the surface by Korean divers assisting in the search and recovery efforts.

Police said another body belonging to a male victim was found downstream from Budapest at the southern village of Harta, 68 miles by road from the Hungarian capital.

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Hungarian and South Korean rescue teams (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP)

During Monday’s search and recovery efforts, relatives of some of the missing South Korean tourists briefly watched from the bridge above the scene of the collision.

The Hableany capsized and sank after colliding with a much larger river cruise ship, the Viking Sygin, near the Hungarian parliament building.

The head of the government agency in charge of co-ordinating search and rescue efforts said Hungarian and South Koreans were taking part together in the exploratory dives meant to recover any bodies possibly trapped in the wreckage at the Margit Bridge in central Budapest.

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Margit Bridge in Budapest where the boat sank (Zoltan Mathe/MTI/AP)

“We will do everything except for one thing — entering the boat’s wreckage is strictly forbidden,” Janos Hajdu said. “It is an absolutely life-threatening manoeuvre but on this we agree with our partners.”

Mr Hajdu said the wreckage is about 30ft deep, about 11ft lower than previous official estimates.

Despite a few test dives last week, the Danube’s fast flow, its high springtime water levels and near zero visibility under water have prevented divers from reaching the boat.

Mr Hajdu said a huge floating crane able to lift 200 tons and able to hoist the boat out of the water is expected at the scene within days. State television reported that the crane was stranded in the city of Komaron, about 75 miles upriver, unable to pass under bridges on its way to Budapest because of the Danube’s high water levels.

Shun-keun Song, military attache at the South Korean embassy in Budapest, said relatives of the victims were anxious for news.

“If conditions improve … the Korean divers would like to examine the hull of the boat,” he said. “The relatives in Korea are waiting very much for the missing family members to finally appear.”

PA Media

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