Death toll in Danube sunken tour boat accident rises to 11


BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — One by one, the Danube River is giving up its dead.

Divers and rescue crews slowly are recovering the bodies of a growing number of people killed when a sightseeing boat and a long river cruise ship collided in Hungary’s capital.

Some victims have been found at the river’s bottom still on the boat, which capsized and sank after the collision. Others were located as far as 132 kilometers (82 miles) downstream.

The Hableany (Mermaid) carried 35 people at the time of last Wednesday’s accident in Budapest. By late Tuesday, 11 had been confirmed dead. Another 17 remain missing.

The bodies of seven South Koreans were found within hours after the boat collided with the Viking Sigyn, a 95-cabin cruise ship on its way to Germany, and sank in about seven seconds at the foot of the Margit Bridge.

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After four days of futile searches, the remains of two South Korean victims were recovered Monday, one a woman in her 50s found near the sunken boat and the other a man found far downstream.

On Tuesday, two more were discovered. The body of a South Korean man turned up about 58 kilometers (36 miles) south from the accident site. Margit Bridge. Divers also recovered a body from a window of the boat lying some 9 meters (29 ½ feet) below the water’s surface.

Hungarian and South Korean divers are continuing search and recovery efforts, hindered by the Danube’s fast flow, typically high springtime water levels and near zero visibility under water.

Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said South Korea accepted Hungary’s arguments that the dangers confronting divers ruled out trying to enter the sunken vessel.

“We don’t want to create heroes,” Pinter said. “We want to bring the bodies and the boat up to the surface. This is evident to us, and it’s evident by now to the Korean divers, too.”

A huge floating crane is expected to arrive at the Margit Bridge in the next few days. While able to lift some 200 tons, there are no indications yet how long it may take to hoist up the Hableany once the crane is in place.

Almost a week after the accident, Hungarians and tourists continued leaving flowers on the bridge or on the banks of the Danube below, with some stopping briefly for a prayer or silent reflection.

“I feel so sorry for all the victims,” said Budapest homemaker Angela Erdosi. “I’m grieving for them as if they were practically family members.”

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