Divers prepare to search Danube tourist ship


A military vessel on the Danube RiverImage copyright

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Rescue workers are preparing to reach the wreckage to search for bodies

Divers are preparing to search the wreck of a sunken tourist ship in the River Danube at Budapest where at least seven people died and 21 are missing.

The boat was carrying South Korean tourists when it was hit by a cruise ship. Nineteen South Koreans and two Hungarians are missing.

A flood prevented rescuers from entering the river earlier. Now divers from South Korea are planning to go in.

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Tributes have been laid on the river bank

Local media say several bodies were spotted in the river over the weekend.

Rescue crews have been hampered by high water levels, inflated by heavy rain.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the Korea Times that rescue workers had been unable to mount underwater operations due to strong river currents.

According to Magyar Nemzet newspaper, more than four bodies were seen in a section of the Danube over the weekend.

How difficult is the dive?

The commander of the South Korean diving team has not yet given the group permission to dive. Teams from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria are also at the scene. Norway has sent specialist sonar equipment.

Janos Hajdu, director-general of Hungary’s Counter-Terrorism Centre, said in a news conference that the rescue effort was a “very dangerous operation” as the Danube’s water levels were higher than they were at the time of the incident.

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Media captionThe tour boat sank seconds after a collision with another vessel

The Viking Sigyn cruise ship hit the tourist boat after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

Most of those onboard the tourist ship were aged between 40 and 50 but the group also included a six-year-old child and a man in his 70s, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Viking Sigyn’s captain, identified as 64-year-old Ukrainian national Yuriy C, has been detained on suspicion of reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties.

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