At least seven South Korean tourists have died and another 21 are missing after a tour boat sank on the Danube River in Budapest, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thirty-five people were on board the vessel when it collided with another large tourist boat in the Hungarian capital and capsized Wednesday at around 10 p.m. local time, according to CNN affiliate ATV.
The boats collided in the center of the city, near Hungary’s riverside Parliament Building and the Elisabeth Bridge.
Of the 33 South Koreans on board, seven have been rescued, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. People were rescued from the river more than a mile downstream, near Petofi Bridge, ATV reported.
Thirty of the tourists on board were traveling with South Korean tour company Very Good Tour, the company’s chief operating officer Lee Sang-moo said at a press conference.
Lee said the group included nine families, mostly people in their 40s and 50s, although at least one child was on board.
Very Good Tour is planning to send a team of staff to Hungary Thursday.
‘No Signs Of A Possible Issue’
Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for boating company Panorama Deck, which operated the capsized ship, said the company could not confirm why the boat sank.
“It was just an average day, and this was a regular trip. We carry out thousands of tourist boat trips every day, there were no signs that something like this could happen,” Toth said.
The tourist boat, called the Mermaid, had been operating on the Danube since 2003 and there had been “no signs of a possible issue with the boat,” he added.
Panorama Deck “ensures all the necessary technical maintenance is carried out every year,” he said.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has ordered a rapid response team to be dispatched to help the rescue effort in Budapest, a presidential spokesperson in Seoul said Thursday.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will head up a central disaster and safety countermeasures headquarters, which will aim to ensure smooth dialogue with the victims, families and the tour boat collision.