The Latest: SKorean rescuers to help in Hungary boat crash

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – The Latest on a boat that capsized in the Danube River in Budapest with 33 South Korean tourists (all times local):

1 p.m.

South Korea is sending its own rescue workers to Hungary to support rescue efforts following a deadly boat accident in Budapest involving 33 South Koreans.

The team including 25 members from the country’s national fire agency, navy and coast guard were on their way Thursday.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the team includes rescue workers who had been involved in the rescue operations for a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people in South Korea – one of the country’s biggest maritime accidents. 

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss rescue operations. Seven people are confirmed dead, 21 others are missing and seven have been rescued so far.

Seoul’s presidential Blue House said Thursday that Moon thanked Orban over the Hungarian government’s rescue efforts, and requested further support for efforts to find the missing, treat the survivors and recover bodies.

The Blue House says Orban told Moon that more than 200 divers and medical staff are involved in the rescue efforts and that officials are planning to locate and hoist the ship.

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12:30 p.m.

A South Korean travel agency says 38 relatives of the South Korean tourists who were onboard a sightseeing boat that capsized in Budapest are on their way to the Hungarian capital.

Lee Sang-moo from the Very Good Tour company said Thursday that the family members will be flown in on four flights and will arrive in Budapest on Friday afternoon and evening.

The boat was carrying 33 South Korean passengers and two Hungarian crewmembers when it collided with a larger cruise boat travelling in the same direction during a nighttime tour on Wednesday night. Seven people were confirmed as dead and 21 others are missing. Seven people were rescued.

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12 noon

Video shown by Hungarian police investigating a deadly boat accident on the Danube River shows that the capsized sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Koreans was travelling in the same direction as the larger cruise ship it collided with.

Police said Thursday that the small sightseeing boat, the “Hableany” (“Mermaid”), crashed with the Viking boat at 9:05 p.m. local time Wednesday night beneath the Margit Bridge.

“Both ships were heading north … and when they arrived between two pillars of the Margit Bridge, for some reason the Hableany turned in front of the Viking ship. As the Viking comes into contact with it, it overturns it and in about seven seconds, as it turned on its side, it sank,” Police Col. Adrian Pal told reporters.

Video footage showed that the two vessels were traveling closely side by side as they approached the bridge in central Budapest. It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.

“Several people fell into the water from the ‘Hableany’,” Pal said.

Seven people are confirmed dead, and 21 are still missing. Seven others were rescued at the scene. Police said none of the bodies were found wearing life jackets.

CCTV footage recorded on Wednesday night showed that the river was busy with boats of different sizes traveling in both directions.

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This version corrects that the description of the collision should be attributed to Police Col. Adrian Pal, not Col. Zsolt Gabor Palotai.

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11:05 a.m.

Hungarian police say the sightseeing boat involved in a deadly collision on the Danube River in Budapest that has killed at least seven South Korean tourists turned on its side and sank in about seven seconds.

Police Col. Adrian Pal said Thursday that rescue operations were hampered by the rain and the fast flow of the rising Danube, with the search for the 21 missing extended even into Serbia, where the Danube goes after leaving Hungary.

Col Zsolt Gabor Palotai, head of Budapest’s disaster management office, said that preparations are underway to hoist the sunken boat out of the Danube, but that due to the poor weather conditions, including rainfall, and the rising river, he could not say when the operation would start.

Pal said police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident. He said the captains of both vessels were experienced professionals employed for a long time by their respective companies.

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9:55 a.m.

Cruise line operator Viking says one of its ships was involved in a deadly boat collision on the Danube River in Budapest that has left at least seven South Korean tourists aboard a smaller boat dead.

Viking said in a statement Thursday that its ship Sigyn was near a Hungarian tourist boat “when it was involved in an incident” on the river at 9 p.m. local time.

It said no one aboard the Viking ship was injured, and that it is cooperating with the authorities. The company, with offices in Switzerland and California, provided no further details.

Officials in Seoul say seven South Korean tourists are dead and 19 others are missing after their sightseeing boat collided with a larger cruise ship and capsized. Two Hungarian crew are also missing.

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7:50 a.m.

South Korean Foreign Ministry says South Korean tourists in the deadly boat collision in Budapest weren’t wearing life jackets.

Officials in Seoul say seven South Korean tourists are dead and 19 others remain missing after their sightseeing boat collided with a larger cruise ship and capsized Wednesday night in the Danube River. Seven South Koreans have been rescued.

The Foreign Ministry says South Korean diplomats in Hungary have learned the tourists did not put on life jackets at the time of the collision.

It says it’s “customary” for tourists taking a sighting boat on the Danube not to wear life jackets. 

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7:40 a.m.

A South Korean travel agency says the Hungarian sightseeing boat that capsized leaving at least seven dead and 21 missing on the Danube River in Budapest was on its way back from an hourlong night tour when it collided with a larger cruise ship that caused the sinking.

Very Good Tour had said earlier Thursday in Seoul that it believed the tour boat was anchored before departure when it collided with the larger cruise ship, citing information from an employee at the scene.

Company official Lee Sang-pil says it remains unclear whether the passengers were wearing life vests.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered officials to mobilize all available efforts to support the ongoing rescue in cooperation with the Hungarian government.

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7 a.m.

A 6-year-old girl is among 30 South Korean tourists whose boat capsized after a collision on the Danube River in downtown Budapest.

A search is underway for 21 people missing while seven have been confirmed dead and another seven have been rescued.

In Seoul, South Korea, tour agency official Lee Sang-moo disclosed the identities of the seven rescued South Koreans – six women and one man, aged between 31 and 66. The girl’s status is unclear but she does not appear on a list of survivors provided by the travel agency.

The sunken boat was located early Thursday near the Margit Bridge, not far from the neo-Gothic Hungarian Parliament building on the riverbank. Lee says the tour boat was anchored when it was hit by a bigger ship.

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5:15 a.m.

A tour agency says the family members of seven South Koreans killed during a boat capsizing in Budapest will fly to the Hungarian capital as early as Thursday night.

The Very Good Tour agency in South Korea says its staff will take 16 family members to Budapest.

Senior agency official Lee Sang-moo says the seven dead are among 30 South Koreans who had been on a package tour in Europe.

Lee says three other South Korean nationals – two guides and a photographer – were also aboard the capsized boat.

He says the boat was anchored when it was hit by a bigger ship on the Danube River in downtown Budapest.

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4:25 a.m.

A tour agency says the South Koreans whose boat capsized in Budapest were on a package tour program in Europe.

Seoul officials say seven South Korean tourists are dead and 19 others remain missing when their sightseeing boat collided with another vessel and capsized Wednesday night in the Danube River. Seven South Koreans have been rescued.

The Very Good Tour agency in South Korea said Thursday that the tourists left South Korea on May 25 for a group tour program that began with a visit to Munich, Germany.

The agency says they were supposed to return to South Korea on June 1.

It says most of the tourists were traveling with their family members.

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3 a.m. Thursday

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered officials to mobilize all available efforts to support rescue work in cooperation with the Hungarian government after a boat with South Korean tourists capsized in Budapest.

Seven South Korean tourists are dead and 19 remain missing. Seven have been rescued.

Moon’s office said Thursday he also ordered the launch of a government task force headed by the foreign minister.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says it’s considering sending a team of 18 officials to Hungary at an early date. A ministry statement says the team would include Foreign Ministry officials and rescue workers.

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10:25 p.m.

Hungarian media say a boat has capsized in the Danube River in Budapest, with 34 people on board, including passengers and personnel.

State news wire MTI says rescuers are at the scene near Hungary’s parliament, including a fire boat.

Some people have been rescued and a search is underway for others.

South Korean navy rescue team members prepare to board a plane to leave for Budapest at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Thursday, May 30, 2019. A massive search is underway on the Danube River in downtown Budapest for over a dozen people missing after a sightseeing boat with 33 South Korean tourists sank after colliding with another vessel during an evening downpour. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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