accident, Danube, Korean, tourist, death, missing
Photo: Viking River Cruises

Danube cruise crash captain to be arrested

A court in Budapest, Hungary has decided that the captain of a Viking ship be arrested after the collision that left seven dead and more than 20 unaccounted for.

Judges in Budapest have ordered the arrest of the captain of a river cruise ship that collided with a smaller tour boat. The crash caused the smaller craft to capsize and sink on the River Danube, leaving seven South Koreans dead and more than 20 other people missing.

The sightseeing vessel Mermaid was carrying 35 people, the majority of whom were tourists from South Korea, when the accident occurred in the Hungarian capital.

The 64-year-old captain of the larger craft, the Viking Sigyn, was detained for questioning the day after the accident but released due to Hungarian law.

But the court has now ordered he be formally held for 30 days, with the possibility of bail only if he remains in Budapest and wears a tracking device.

Prosecutors objected to the bail option, but the captain’s lawyers said there wasn’t enough evidence to detain him.

The captain, who is a Ukrainian citizen, denies any wrongdoing. Gabor Elo, his defence lawyer, said his client “committed no navigational error,” and was “very sorry that he was involved in such an accident in which so many people lost their lives or are missing.”

Continuing investigation
The cause of the collision on a popular stretch of the river near the city’s well-known parliament building is still unclear.

The river’s strong currents and current high water levels have so far hampered efforts to find survivors and recover the wreckage.

Authorities have stated that they expect water levels to retreat, providing better conditions for the search.

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