Hungary to lift sunken tour boat

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jun 11, 2019 - 09:58
  • Updated : Jun 11, 2019 - 09:58

Hungarian authorities will start salvaging a sunken tour boat from the Danube River early Tuesday (Budapest time), officials said, nearly two weeks after its deadly sinking left 26 South Koreans dead or missing.

Operations to lift the Hableany from waters beneath the Margit bridge in central Budapest will begin at around 6:30 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. Korean time), the South Korean quick response team dispatched to the site told reporters.

Hungary finished tying the wire ropes around the ship late Monday. A floating crane has been on standby for the salvage operation near the river. 

A crane float on the Danube river under the Margaret Bridge where a sightseeing boat capsized in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 10, 2019. A huge floating crane is in place at Margit Bridge as preparations continue to lift the boat off the river floor. (AP-Yonhap)

The sightseeing boat carrying 33 Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew members capsized and sank on May 29 after colliding with a large Swiss cruise ship. The sinking left 19 Koreans dead and seven others unaccounted for. The Hungarian captain is still missing.

It will take about four hours for the salvage work to be completed, from pulling the wreck out of the river and placing it safely on the barge.

Search operations to find the missing will also continue after the ship is salvaged, Song Shun-keun, a defense attache at the South Korean Embassy in Budapest, said.

Head of the Public Relations Department of the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) Nandor Jasenszky speaks to the press at Margaret Bridge, the scene of the deadly boat accident, in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 10, 2019. (AP-Yonhap)

South Korean and Hungarian authorities have continued their joint search along the river with divers, helicopters, drones and search dogs. The previous day, they searched areas up to 50 kilometers downstream from the site of the sinking.

Hungarian investigators carried out another search inside the Viking Sigyn, the cruise ship that hit the tourist boat, to obtain additional evidence amid growing criticism that the investigation into the sinking has not been thorough.

People gather on the banks of the Danube river to watch as a 200-ton lift capa city crane manoeuvres into position near the Margaret Bridge, preparing to lift the sunk shipwreck, from the scene of the deadly boat accident in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 10, 2019. (AP-Yonhap)

Hungarian police allowed the cruise to keep sailing two days after the accident, saying they had obtained enough evidence for the investigation. A Hungarian court has also granted conditional bail for Yuriy C., the cruise captain accused of negligence and carelessness resulting in the deaths.

Criticism arose as it turned out part of the cruise has been repainted in an apparent attempt to conceal and destroy traces of the collision. (Yonhap)