Danube River Cruise Disaster: Divers Recover Body from Sunken Boat as Salvage Begins

A search operation continues near the Margaret bridge on the Danube river after a boat carrying South Korean tourists capsized in Budapest
A search operation continues near the Margaret bridge on the Danube river after a boat carrying South Korean tourists capsized in Budapest, Hungary, June 2, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

reuters logo By Krisztina Than and Hyonhee Shin BUDAPEST, June 5 (Reuters) – Divers found a body in the wreckage of a pleasure boat on Wednesday a week after the vessel capsized and sank on the River Danube in Budapest, officials said, as crews prepared for salvage operations.

An estimated 28 people died when the Mermaid boat, carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew, went down on Wednesday last week after colliding with a cruise liner.

Divers found one body in the wreckage on Wednesday morning, authorities said, hours after police found the remains of one of the Korean tourists 60km (37 miles) downstream – underlining the scale of the recovery operation.

South Korean and Hungarian crews would start trying to secure the vessel to prevent the loss of bodies and prepare for a possible salvage, South Korean defense attache Song Shun-keun told journalists in Budapest.

It was still too dangerous for divers to enter the wreck and visibility underwater was poor, he added.

“Depending on that process, we will decide on whether we can start salvaging the ship with the crane tomorrow or on Friday,” he added.

Seven Koreans survived the disaster, 13 people have now been found dead and another 15 people are still missing.

Six of the survivors talked on Tuesday to police and prosecutors invesitgating the cause of the collision, South Koreas’s Deputy foreign minister for consular affairs, Lee Sang-jin, told the same briefing. He did not give further details.

South Korea has asked Hungary to ensure that the captain of the cruise liner, a 64-year-old Ukrainian under arrest pending bail, is not released. His lawyers said the captain was devastated by what happened but had done nothing wrong.

A joint team of divers have been exploring the wreck in difficult conditions.

The Danube has been flooding, though waters receded this week as the weather improved, officials said. (Reporting by Krisztina Than Editing by Andrew Heavens)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.