Floods prevent attempts to reach wreck as Danube cruise captain in court

June 1, 2019

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The captain of a passenger cruiser that collided with a pleasure boat that capsized on the Danube, killing South Korean tourists on board, was due to appear in court in Budapest on Saturday as flood waters prevented attempts to reach the wreck.

Rescuers were unable to reach the submerged boat on Friday, two days after it sank in the Hungarian capital with 28 people feared dead, nearly all of them from South Korea.

The Ukrainian captain, who denies having broken any rules or committing a criminal office, was taken into custody by Hungarian police on Thursday.

Prosecutors will decide on Saturday whether to extend the period for which the 64-year-old captain can be detained.

It is so far unclear what caused the accident, in which the 440-foot (135-metre) cruise ship hit and sank the smaller pleasure boat on Wednesday night.

The cruise ship’s captain, identified by Hungarian police as C. Yuriy from Odessa, was “shaken by the consequences of the accident and regrets that he had no way to avoid the accident, and expresses his condolences to the families of the victims,” MTI news agency quoted his lawyers as saying on Friday.

Meanwhile a spokesman for Swiss-based Viking Cruises, which owns the larger vessel, said in a statement on Friday that it was supporting and cooperating with investigations into the accident.

“We are deeply saddened by the incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were impacted and as well as to their families,” the spokesman said.

“We understand the Captain has been charged by the local authorities and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further while the legal process is ongoing.”

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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