Hopes fade to find Danube tour boat survivors

Hopes fade to find Danube tour boat survivors

Hungarian rescue officials said there was little chance of finding survivors after a boat with South Korean tourists onboard sank on the Danube river in Budapest.

Seven people were confirmed dead and 21 missing.

The boat was cruising on the river when it collided with a larger luxury passenger boat during a rainstorm on Wednesday evening, causing it to capsize and sink with 33 South Korean tourists and tour guides onboard and two Hungarian crew.

"I wouldn't say there is no hope, rather that there is a minimal chance (of finding survivors)," Pal Gyorfi, a spokesman for the Hungarian national ambulance service, told the M1 state broadcaster.

"This is not just because of the water temperature, but (also) the strong currents in the river, the vapour above the water surface, as well as the clothes worn by the people who fell in," he added.

Police said the smaller boat turned on its side and sank within seconds of the collision under a bridge near Hungary's parliament building.

They said a criminal investigation was under way to determine the cause of the accident. Police declined to say if the bigger vessel, the 135-metre (443 ft) Viking Sigyn, put out any signals for help.

Heavy rains have left the Danube in spate, and local flooding and strong currents hampered rescuers, one diver told M1. The water temperature in the river was 10 to 12 degrees Celsius (50-54 degrees F), he said.

Officials said the hull of the Mermaid, a 27-metre (89-ft) double-decker river cruise boat, had been found on the riverbed a few hundred metres from its usual mooring point.

A crane ship docked near the wreck early on Thursday in preparation for recovery operations.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban offered his condolences to Seoul. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the authorities would work with the Hungarian government to investigate the cause of the accident.

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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