South Korean rescuers begin test dives in Hungary to reach sunken tourist boat

June 3, 2019

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – South Korean rescue divers performed test dives in the Danube river in Budapest on Monday as they prepared an attempt to reach the wreckage of a pleasure boat which had been carrying mostly South Korean tourists when it sank in an accident last week.

The Viking Sigyn cruise liner struck a smaller boat, the Mermaid, in heavy rain on Wednesday. The smaller vessel, which was carrying a group of South Koreans on a pleasure cruise, capsized and sank in the worst accident on the Danube in more than half a century.

Seven Koreans were rescued alive and seven bodies recovered on the night of the disaster. A further 21 people — 19 Koreans and two Hungarians — are missing and presumed dead.

In the five days since the disaster, a flood has prevented divers from reaching the wreck or recovering the rest of the bodies. Hungarian attempts to send divers near the wreckage were not successful.

A Korean barge and several rubber speedboats replaced a Hungarian barge early on Monday morning, preparing for the tests and an eventual dive, a Reuters cameraman on the scene said.

“The (dive) will be put into operation from 8:00 (local time) today to test the possibility of underwater work as soon as the preparations are completed,” the rescue team said in a statement.

“The point of entry is on the barge located at the scene of the accident. Today, diving is not about attempting to enter the ship, but for understanding the situation first.”

(Additional reporting by Krisztina Fenyo and Fedja Grulovic; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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