Over 200 Questioned Over Deadly Hungary Boat Collision

June 8, 2019 Updated: June 8, 2019

BUDAPEST, Hungary—Hungarian police say they have questioned 230 people and 66 witnesses over the deadly Danube Riverboat collision that killed 18 South Korean tourists.

They also said Saturday that the captain of a cruise ship that collided May 29 with the sightseeing boat carrying the tourists did not reveal details of the incident during questioning.

A GoogleEarth image combined with a sonar image of the sunk boat
A GoogleEarth image combined with a sonar image of the sunk boat is presented during a press conference about the recovery operations in the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, on June 3, 2019. (Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP)

The tour boat sank within seconds after the collision in downtown Budapest. A Hungarian crewman also died, nine others are still missing and seven South Koreans were rescued.

A huge floating crane arrived Friday to Margit Bridge, where the Hableany (Mermaid) lies some nine meters (29 ½ feet) below the surface, as Hungarian and Korean divers prepared the boat to be raised.

The Danube’s high water levels have hindered recovery efforts.

A diver takes part in the search operations in the River Danube
A diver takes part in the search operations in the River Danube for the missing victims of the deadly boat accident near Dunaujvaros, Hungary, June 7, 2019. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)

Floating Crane in Hungary’s Capital to Lift Sunken Tour Boat

BUDAPEST, Hungary—A huge floating crane, designed to lift a sunken sightseeing boat that was carrying South Korean tourists, arrived in Budapest on Wednesday as the search for more bodies continued, officials said.

But rising waters in the Danube River could impede the crane from reaching the site of the tragedy for up to four days, said Istvan Gyenyei, captain of the Adam Clark floating crane.

The Hableany (Mermaid) sightseeing boat, carrying 33 South Koreans and two Hungarian crew members, capsized and sank in about seven seconds after a collision last Wednesday night with the Viking Sigyn, a river cruise ship.

A 200-ton lift capacity crane named Clark Adam is positioned near the Margaret Bridge, the scene of the deadly boat accident in Budapest, Hungary, on June 7, 2019. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)

“Once the ropes are in place, the lifting tasks take a couple of hours,” Gyenyei said. “The question is how the (sunken) boat will behave as it starts to tear away from the river floor.”

“If the boat’s hull doesn’t break, the ropes will bear it for sure,” the captain said, adding that the plan was to put the Hableany on a barge in the river once raised out of the water. “We will try to lift it in ways that reduce the chance of the boat breaking.”

Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll rose to 13, as two more bodies were recovered from the river. Seven people were rescued and 15 remain missing.

Hungarian officials said the remains of a South Korean man were found at the village of Adony, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) downstream from Margit Bridge, while another body was retrieved by divers from an opening on the sunken boat.

A floating crane able to lift 200 tons
A floating crane able to lift 200 tons and which would be able to hoist the boat out of the water on its way on the site of the accident where a sightseeing boat capsized in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, on June 5, 2019. (Laszlo Balogh/AP Photo)

Song Shun-keun, military attache at the South Korean Embassy, said divers had started the process of tying wires on the sunken boat so that it could be raised by the crane.

Song also said that South Korea, whose divers and rescue personnel were cooperating with their Hungarian counterparts, was sending more equipment to Hungary, including underwater drones, to help with search and recovery efforts.

Recovery efforts have been slowed by the Danube’s fast flow, typically high springtime water levels and near-zero visibility underwater.

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