Danube boat accident: More bodies found as vessel is raised in Hungary
Four more bodies have been recovered after salvage crews raised the wreck of a tourist boat that sank on the Danube in Budapest last month.
A floating crane raised The Mermaid to the surface, allowing divers to enter.
The boat was carrying South Korean tourists when it was hit by a cruise ship and capsized, killing 20 people and leaving eight missing.
Recovery efforts by Hungarian and South Korean teams have been hampered by high water levels in the Danube.
Footage from the scene on Tuesday morning showed the cabin and upper deck of the boat emerge from the water and divers carry out a search for victims still trapped inside.
The four bodies recovered have not been formally identified, but they are believed to be those of the boat’s Hungarian captain and three South Koreans including a six-year-old girl — the only child to die in the accident.
The rest of the 70-year-old boat was then slowly brought to the surface with pumps removing water from the hull to stabilise it, and lifted on to a barge.
One of the divers, Zoltan Papp, said attaching straps to the hull of the boat had been difficult because visibility in the muddy, fast-flowing river had been as low as 10cm (4in) at times.
"It was like being in heavy snowfall or fog," he told Reuters news agency.
At one point in Tuesday’s operation, a member of the recovery crew fell into the swollen river and had to be rescued by colleagues.
Another four people are believed to still be missing. After the ship was raised, a police spokesman said search efforts would be doubled to find them.
How did the accident happen?
The Viking Sigyn cruise ship struck the Mermaid just after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on 29 May as both vessels passed under the Margaret Bridge.
Seven of the 35 people on board were rescued and several bodies quickly recovered, but others were swept away in the swollen river or trapped inside the boat.
Police said the boat had sunk within seven seconds of the collision.
"The current was so fast and people were floating away," one survivor, identified only by her surname Jung, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
More bodies were recovered in the following days, with one pulled from the Danube more than 100km (60 miles) downstream. Excluding the unidentified four recovered on Tuesday, 19 South Korean tourists and a Hungarian crewman are so far confirmed to have died.
The disaster was the worst on the Danube — Europe’s second-longest river — in more than 50 years.
What about the investigation?
The wreck of the Mermaid will be taken to a secure location and examined by police, who have launched a criminal investigation.
The Viking Sigyn’s captain, named as 64-year-old Ukrainian national Yuriy C, was detained on suspicion of reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties. His lawyers said he was devastated but did nothing wrong.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his government would co-operate with Hungarian authorities "to thoroughly investigate the incident".
Article source: “https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48591791”