One by one, the Danube River is giving up its dead.
On Tuesday, divers and rescue crews discovered the bodies of two more people who were killed when a sightseeing boat and a river cruise ship collided last week on the waterway in Hungary’s capital, bringing the death toll to 11.
The body of a South Korean man turned up about 58 kilometres south of the accident site. Divers also recovered a body from a window of the tour boat, which capsized and sank in the May 29 collision and now lies some nine metres below the water’s surface.
The Hableany (“Mermaid”) tour boat carried 35 people at the time of the crash in Budapest. The bodies of seven South Koreans were found just hours after the boat collided with the Viking Sigyn, a 95-cabin cruise ship on its way to Germany, and sank in about seven seconds at the foot of the Margit Bridge.
After four days of futile searches, the remains of two South Korean victims were recovered Monday — one a woman in her 50s found near the sunken boat, and the other a man found more than 100 kilometres downstream.
Seven people survived the crash, and another 17 people remain missing.
High waters hamper recovery
Hungarian and South Korean divers are continuing search and recovery efforts, hindered by the Danube’s fast flow, typically high springtime water levels and near zero visibility under water.
Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said South Korea accepted Hungary’s argument that divers should not attempt to enter the sunken vessel because it would be too dangerous.
“We don’t want to create heroes,” Pinter said. “We want to bring the bodies and the boat up to the surface. This is evident to us, and it’s evident by now to the Korean divers, too.”
A huge floating crane is expected to arrive at the Margit Bridge in the next few days. While able to lift some 181 tonnes, there are no indications yet how long it may take to hoist up the Hableany once the crane is in place.
Almost a week after the accident, Hungarians and tourists continued leaving flowers on the bridge or on the banks of the Danube below, with some stopping briefly for a prayer or silent reflection.
“I feel so sorry for all the victims,” said Budapest homemaker Angela Erdosi. “I’m grieving for them as if they were practically family members.”