BUDAPEST: South Korean relatives of victims of the Budapest boat tragedy on Friday visited the scene of the accident which left seven dead and 21 missing after a sightseeing boat sank.
The ill-fated Mermaid carrying mainly South Korean tourists overturned and capsized in pouring rain late on Wednesday, seconds after colliding with a much larger cruise ship on the Danube river.
Rescuers looking for the missing are battling strong currents with Seoul requesting that the search be extended further south along the Danube.
“We have firmly decided that we won’t give up our hopes about the possibility of finding survivors,” South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a news conference in Budapest. Kyung-wha arrived in the city with an emergency task force and on Friday visited the site of the crash along with her Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.
Later in the day, officials escorted the relatives of victims, who had also arrived on Friday, to the riverbank.
Prospects for survivors slim
The prospects of finding any more survivors are seen as very slim. Only seven people are known to have survived so far. Those missing include a six-year-old girl and the boat’s Hungarian captain and a crew member, while seven South Korean tourists are known to have died.
Police said they had detained the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain of the larger ship, the Viking Sigyn, for questioning “in relation to ‘endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths’”.
The captain’s lawyer, Balazs Toth, told Hungarian news agency MTI that his client, who had 44 years of experience “denied having committed a crime or not having respected all the rules”.
“He has never caused an accident. He regrets he did not have the means to avoid the accident,” he said.
The Viking Sigyn itself left Budapest with a new captain on Friday and reached the Hungarian city of Esztergom, according to local media.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2019