A pontoon participating in the rescue operations is moored under Margaret Bridge, the scene of a boat accident, on River Danube in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)
BUDAPEST, Hungary – The death toll from last week’s Danube river crash between a tourist ship and a cruise ship has risen from four to 19, Hungarian police said on Thursday.
Police said the body of a South Korean tourist in Budapest found, while the remains of one of the two Hungarian crew were found in the city of Erd, 21 kilometers (13 miles) downstream from the accident scene in the Margit bridge, near the building of the Hungarian Parliament.
Earlier, police announced the recovery in Budapest of the bodies of two men from South Korea. One was found about 2 miles from the Margit bridge, while the other was located about 3.5 miles downstream.
Eight South Koreans and the other member of the crew remain missing, while only seven tourists on board the Hableany (Sirena) survived when it sank within seconds of being hit by the Viking Sigyn, a cruise on the river with 95 cabins.
On Thursday afternoon, the Chief Prosecutor of Budapest said the Ukrainian captain of the cruise, identified above as Yuriy C., referring to his first name and the first letter of his name, was also involved in an accident in the Netherlands on April 1 that involved a sister ship.
Viking River Cruises, the owners of the cruise, confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press that the young man of 64 years was in the Viking Idun when it collided with a tanker in the canal Western Scheldt near the town of Terneuzen in the south from Holland. but that he was not “serving” as captain at that time.
“We can not comment further while investigations of both incidents are ongoing,” the company said.
The Ukrainian captain was formally arrested for 30 days in Budapest on Saturday, suspected of endangering water transport and causing a massive accident. He remains in custody while an appeals court resolves the objections of prosecutors to his release on bail of 15 million forints ($ 52,770).
Prosecutors also said that the captain erased the data from his mobile phone after the collision in Budapest, although they could not confirm that the missing information was related to his investigation.
A large floating crane that will be used to raise the Hableany from the Danube floor, the Adam Clark, has been waiting since late Wednesday afternoon in the north of Budapest.
Nandor Jasenszky, a spokesman for the rescue team, said the divers were placing harnesses and lifting points on the sunken boat of the tour, and that preparations are expected by Friday. The crane can only start the lift when the Danube’s water levels fall.
After falling significantly in the first days of the week, the Danube has increased several inches in the last 24 hours and is expected to increase a little more until around noon on Friday, due to melting snow in its upper basin, before falling again.
The identification of the victims of South Korea was being carried out with the cooperation of the South Korean police. Its chief superintendent, Im Byung-ho, said the new techniques have made it possible to remove fingerprints from bodies that have been in the water for up to three months.