Hungary tourist boat death toll reaches 15

Hungary tourist boat death toll reaches 15

A makeshift memorial has been set up close to the spot where the sinking happened on the Danube
A makeshift memorial has been set up close to the spot where the sinking happened on the Danube river. (Photo: AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)

BUDAPEST: The bodies of two more South Korean tourists have been found after a sightseeing vessel sunk in Budapest last week, bringing the death toll to 15, with 13 still missing, police said.

The Mermaid with mainly South Koreans aboard overturned and sank May 29, seconds after colliding with a bigger cruise ship on a busy stretch of the Danube river in the heart of Budapest.

Police said late on Wednesday (Jun 5) that a body found 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the Hungarian capital, near the town of Ercsi, was that of a female South Korean passenger from the stricken boat.

A body recovered from the Danube near the accident scene in Budapest was also a female South Korean victim, according to a statement.

Divers have been unable to enter the sunken boat due to the strong current in a river swollen after weeks of rain.

A barge carrying a crane powerful enough to lift the Mermaid arrived in Budapest Wednesday but was to remain docked in the north of the city until the river level subsides enough to allow it to pass under several bridges to reach the accident scene.

Experts said the crane was unlikely to begin the salvage operation before the weekend.

The captain of the river cruise ship, the Viking Sigyn, was charged on Saturday over the accident.

He was detained by police on Thursday for questioning for "endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths".

His lawyers have said the 64-year-old veteran is "devastated" by the accident and has insisted he did not make any error.

According to South Korean media reports, Seoul has asked the Hungarian authorities to return the Viking Sigyn to Budapest and keep it there for the duration of the criminal investigation.

The ship on Friday continued its journey with a new captain.

Source: AFP/ec

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