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Hungary Vigil for Boat Victims Outside Budapest’s South Korean Embassy

Hungary Vigil for Boat Victims Outside Budapest’s South Korean Embassy

A vigil is held outside the South Korean embassy in Budapest, to remember the victims of a sightseeing boat which capsized in the city’s Danube River.

Hungarian police detained the captain of a cruise ship that collided with and sank a sightseeing boat packed with South Korean tourists, as rescue crews geared up to raise the vessel from the bottom of the Danube River in the heart of Budapest while scouring the waters for 21 people still missing.

Seven people are confirmed dead and seven have been rescued, all of them South Koreans, Hungarian officials said. Hungary’s state TV reported that all those rescued have been released from the hospital except one who is being treated for broken ribs.

Officials said preparations to bring up the 70-year-old boat, which was built in the former Soviet Union, could take days.

Police, who launched a criminal investigation into the incident, said late Thursday that they had detained and questioned the Ukrainian captain of the larger vessel.

The 64-year-old man is suspected of endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident. In line with Hungarian laws, the suspect was identified only as Yuriy C., referencing his first name and the initial letter of his last name. Police proposed the arrest of the Odessa resident, described earlier by police as an experienced sailor.

So far, only seven of the 35 people onboard, that included 33 South Koreans, are known to have survived the incident near the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. Seven others are confirmed dead and 21 remain missing.

A South Korean group on a package tour of Europe — including 30 tourists, two guides and a photographer— were on an hour-long sightseeing tour of Budapest when their boat collided with a Viking cruise ship during a downpour Wednesday evening.

Nineteen South Koreans and two Hungarian crew members — the captain and his assistant — remain missing.

A map released by Hungarian police showed the locations and times the seven bodies were recovered, with one body found nearly 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) downstream, nearly 2-½ hours after the collision.

“Those contributing to the search will continue to do everything possible … along the full Hungarian stretch of the Danube’s coasts in the interests of the locating the missing persons,” Budapest police said in a statement, adding that the river was flowing at speeds of 9-11 kilometers (5.6-6.8 miles) per hour.

A crisis management team from the South Korean government arrived in Budapest late Thursday, as well as representatives from the South Korean tourist agency which organized the ill-fated trip.

“The most important emphasis of our government is the protection of Korean nationals overseas,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary Oh Sai Juengh said upon his arrival in Budapest.

The sunken boat was located early Thursday near the Margit Bridge, not far from the neo-Gothic Parliament building on the riverbank.

Video released by Hungarian police showed the sightseeing boat, identified as the Hableany (Mermaid), traveling closely side by side and in the same direction as a German-built Viking cruise ship as they approached the bridge Wednesday night.

The Hableany then appeared to steer slightly to its left, into the path of the 135-meter (443-feet) long cruise ship, which continued to sail on at the same speed. The two collided and the sightseeing boat was then seen tipping on its side between the bridge’s two supports.

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