Hungary tourist boat disaster death toll reaches 11

A rescue team continues its search after a tourist boat accident in the Danube river in Budapest.
A rescue team continues its search after a tourist boat accident in the Danube river in Budapest.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Hungarian police confirmed on Tuesday (June 4) the discovery of two more South Korean victims of a sightseeing vessel which sank in Budapest last week, raising the toll to eleven tourists killed with 17 still missing.

"A (male) body was found in the window of the boat wreck and brought to the surface," said a statement by Hungarian counterterror police TEK, who are leading the search operation.

Later, police confirmed a male body found in the Kulcs area some 70km south of the accident scene was also a victim.

The Mermaid boat carrying mainly South Korean tourists overturned and sank last Wednesday seconds after colliding with the Viking Sigyn cruise ship on a busy stretch of the river in the heart of the Hungarian capital.

Only seven of the 35 people on board have survived so far, leaving 17 missing with the prospect of finding any more passengers alive seen as practically zero.

Those missing include a six-year-old girl as well as the Mermaid's Hungarian captain and a crew member.

Divers and experts continued Tuesday to assess how to hoist the submerged boat from 9m under the surface or search for bodies presumed to be stuck inside.

 
 

According to the Hungarian authorities the high water level - swollen by heavy rain in recent weeks - and speed of the river current makes entering the boat potentially lethal.

"The visibility is in effect zero, we don't know how much the ship is damaged, and what traps may be inside," said Hungarian interior minister Sandor Pinter.

"We don't want more deaths, so the goal is to safely lift the wreck," he told a parliamentary committee.

A boat carrying a crane large enough to lift the stricken Mermaid is scheduled to arrive at the accident scene Thursday when the water level is expected to subside.