South Korea expects the Hungarian authorities to soon begin searching inside the sunken tour boat involved in a collision in the Danube River in Budapest which killed at least seven Korean tourists and left 21 others missing, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday.
The sightseeing boat capsized and sank within a matter of few seconds after colliding with larger ship Viking River Cruise in driving rain on Wednesday evening.
A diver descends a ladder to sink to the wreckage as rescuers work to prepare the recovery of the capsized boat under Margaret Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, 30 May 2019. A sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean tourists collided with a large river cruise ship on River Danube near the bridge last night, killing at least seven tourists. Seven tourists have been rescued, 21 persons, including the two crew members, have disappeared. (EPA-Yonhap)
The ministry official said the Hungarian authorities have been trying to lift the boat from the river bed with a crane but operations were hampered by rain and the fast-flowing waters on Thursday.
“We expect that the recovery of the boat won’t take too long with a crane being used if weather improves as the boat is not big and it sank in waters about three meters deep,” he said.
A floating crane arrives at the site of a ship accident, which killed several people, near Margaret Bridge on the Danube river in Budapest, Hungary, May 30, 2019. (REUTERS-Yonhap)
In Budapest, rescue efforts are underway with helicopters and radar with the country’s national police, counterterrorism agency and coast guard being mobilized for the operations.
No additional survivors and deaths have been reported as of 4.30 p.m. since Thursday. Among the 33 Korean passengers who were onboard, seven have been rescued while another seven people were confirmed dead. Nineteen Koreans, including tourists and tour guides, as well as two Hungarian crew members remain missing.
Among those confirmed dead, only two who had their IDs on them at the time of the accident have been identified. They are two women surnamed Lee and Kim, both believed to be in their 50s.
The five others are to be identified following fingerprinting or DNA tests.
Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho, who presided over a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, expressed frustration over lack of progress in the rescue process. “It is very regrettable that there has not been no change in the situation.”
Lee said the government requested support for efforts to find the missing people from countries adjacent to the downstream of Danube River, including Serbia, Croatia, Rumania and Ukraine.
Serbia already has mobilized some 15 divers to look for any victims who may have drifted into its territory, according to a ministry official.
On Friday, more than 40 family members of the Korean victims left for Hungary to receive updates on rescue efforts.
According to Very Good Tour, the company that organized the package tour, it will take charge of caring for the family members so that the government agencies will be able to focus on supporting rescue efforts in cooperation with the Hungarian government.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)