Desperate search after Budapest boat tragedy enters third day

Hungary, Budapest, International
Responders continue to search for the victims after a tourist boat crashed with another ship in Budapest on late Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Hopes are fading of finding any more survivors from a boat accident on the Danube river in Budapest, with 21 people still missing most of them South Korean tourists. Police and army boats continued the search operations on Firday (May 31) but their work has been hampered by high river levels and a strong current after weeks of heavy rainfall.

The Mermaid sightseeing boat overturned after colliding with a much larger river cruise ship on a busy stretch of the Danube on Wednesday evening. At least seven South Korean tourists were killed and 21 people remain missing — including the boats captain and a crew member, both Hungarian. Only seven people are known to have survived so far.

Late Thursday (May 30) police announced that the captain of the larger ship, the 135-metre four-storey Viking Sigyn, had been taken into custody and “questioned as a suspect… in relation to endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths.” “After being questioned, 64-year-old Yuriy C., a resident of Odessa, was detained and a request for his arrest has been made,” police said in a statement.

On Thursday police had launched a investigation into possible “criminal negligence on public waterways”. A floating crane was erected near the accident site, as well as a small pier for use by divers.

However, experts warned that the Danubes high current level would make any diving attempts very risky and that lifting the wreck could take several days. The water level is not expected to start receding before Tuesday (June 4) at the earliest.

On Thursday (May 30) police revealed the strong current had swept one of the victims around 11 kilometres (seven miles) downstream of the accident site. The search operation has been extended to cover the entire length of the Danube in Hungary south of Budapest and Hungarian authorities have also contacted their counterparts in neighbouring Serbia.

On Friday families of some of the victims are due to fly to Budapest. South Koreas Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is also expected to arrive along with a emergency task force.
The Mermaid sightseeing boat overturned after colliding with a much larger river cruise ship on a busy stretch of the Danube on Wednesday evening.

At least seven South Korean tourists were killed and 21 people remain missing — including the boats captain and a crew member, both Hungarian. Only seven people are known to have survived so far.