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Rescuers scour waters for survivors after Danube boat disaster leaves seven dead, 21 missing




A river boat is seen on the Danube river in Budapest, Hungary, May 30, 2019. (Bernadett Szabo / Reuters)

Rescue divers and boats using spotlights and radar scanners made a last-attempt attempt to find survivors on Thursday after a sightseeing boat sank on the River Danube in Budapest during an evening downpour, leaving Seven people confirmed dead and a further 21 missing.

The dead and 19 of the missing were South Korean tourists who were not wearing life jackets, officials said. The boat collided with a larger cruise ship in the dark during a rainstorm, before overturning and sinking, news agencies reported.

South Korea's government said it was sending a team of 33 emergency rescue workers, military experts and officials to Hungary to help with the rescue effort

"What's most important is speed," President Moon Jae-said at an emergency government meeting, instructing officials to use "all available resources to help."

Seoul's Foreign Ministry and the Very Good Tour Agency, which organized the trip, said 30 South Korean tourists, two tour guides and a photographer, as well as two Hungarian crew members, were aboard the boat when it sank.

Seven people were rescued from the water and have been hospitalized, said Pal Gyorfi, spokesman for Hungary's National Ambulance Service, according to the Associated Press. They were suffering from hypothermia but stable. Seven others were confirmed dead after their bodies were pulled from the water.


Firemen stand at Margit Bridge, where the wreck of a sightseeing boat was found on the Danube River in downtown Budapest, Hungary, May 30, 2019. (Zoltan Mathe / AP)

Most of the tourists were traveling with their families and the group included a six-year-old girl whose name did not appear on the list of survivors provided by the tour agency, which included six women and one man aged between 31 and 66, AP reported.

With rain continuing , currents swirling and the river flow fast, rescuers searching several miles downstream of the accident, that took place around 9 pm Local time Wednesday evening near the Margit Bridge, connecting the twin cities of Buda and Pest, not far from the Parliament building.

Water temperatures were between 50-54 degrees Fahrenheit (10-12 Celsius).

The boat that sank was identified as the "Hableany" (Mermaid), a 89-ft double-decker river cruise boat which is described on the sightseeing company's website as "one of the smallest members of the fleet."


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