Budapest: Hungarian police on Thursday launched a criminal probe into one of the country’s worst boat disasters that left seven South Korean tourists dead and 21 others still missing.
The Mermaid sightseeing boat collided with a much larger passenger river cruise vessel on the Danube in the heart of Budapest on Wednesday evening and went down in just seven seconds, police said. Army boats were scouring the murky Danube on Thursday as dozens of people looked on from a bridge.
Thirty-five people were on board the 26-metre Mermaid when it sank near the parliament building, most of them South Korean tourists including a six-year-old girl. Army divers have joined police in the search, but the operation has been complicated by high water levels and a fast-moving current after weeks of heavy rainfall.
Three bodies have already been found several kilometres south of the disaster site, police said.
A captain of a boat that was near the accident told online daily 24.hu he saw two elderly women being pulled out of the water.
“I am still in shock. I have never seen such horror in my life,” the unnamed man was quoted as saying.
“We were at the parliament when we heard that people were in the water — everyone stopped right away and started helping out.”
Police showed journalists security camera footage from a bridge in which the Mermaid is seen colliding with the Viking Sigyn river cruise boat.
“The footage shows that before the collision the Mermaid turned towards the Viking Sigyn cruise boat, for some reason, the Viking then turned the small boat over, and it sank within seven seconds,” police colonel Adrian Pal said....