Eight killed in Hungarian boat capsize, minimal hope for 19 S. Korean survivors

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Prospects were minimal today (30) for finding 20 people missing from a group of South Korean visitors aboard a pleasure boat that capsized on the flooding Danube in the Hungarian capital, killing at least eight, authorities said.

The boat reportedly collided with another tourist vessel near the Hungarian parliament yesterday (29), before turning over on the river, which has been flooding, with very strong currents, while a rainstorm enveloped Budapest.

“I am not inclined to say there is no hope, so I would rather say there is a minimal chance (to find more survivors),” Pal Gyorfi, a spokesman of the Hungarian national ambulance service, told state television.

In Seoul, President Moon Jae-in said South Korea would work with the Hungarian Government to investigate the cause of the accident.

The Foreign Ministry said the South Koreans aboard the vessel when it sank were 30 tourists and three tour guides, in addition to a crew of two Hungarians.

Seven South Koreans were rescued, seven died, 19 were missing, and one Hungarian died, said Kang Hyung-shik, a Foreign Ministry official. The seven people rescued were suffering from Hypothermia but stable, a Hungarian ambulance spokesman said.

South Korea planned to send 33 officials to Budapest, including emergency rescuers and military specialists, presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said, and the Government would provide counseling to victims’ families.

A massive rescue effort deployed boats, divers, spotlights, and radar scanning to scour the river for several kilometres downstream from the site of the accident, which took place soon after 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) yesterday (29).

The boat, the Mermaid, was a 27-m (89-ft) double-decker river cruise boat with a 150-horsepower engine and could hold up to 60 people, its owner, Panorama Deck Ltd., told state media.