Trial starts of captain charged in deadly Danube boat crash

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – A trial began Wednesday in Hungary in the case of a river cruise ship captain charged in the deaths of 27 people in a May 2019 collision on the Danube River.

The Ukrainian captain, identified only as Yuriy C., has been charged by prosecutors with negligent endangerment of water traffic leading to a fatal mass catastrophe and 35 counts of failing to give assistance.

Prosecutors say the captain did not pay attention to his duties steering the Viking Sigyn cruise ship for at least five minutes, during which his ship collided and sank a much smaller tour boat.

Just seven of the 33 South Korean tourists aboard the Hableany (Mermaid) sightseeing boat survived the May 29 nighttime collision, which also killed the boat’s two-man Hungarian crew. A female South Korean tourist is still missing.

The crash happened at Budapest’s Margit Bridge, near Hungary’s Parliament building.

The Hableany was raised out of the Danube by a huge floating crane on June 11, with divers from South Korea assisting their Hungarian colleagues in recovering several bodies that were still aboard the sunken tour boat.

Some of the victims’ bodies were found weeks after the crash more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) downstream.

In a separate case, prosecutors are also investigating the captain of the Viking Idun, a sister ship of the Viking Sigyn, which arrived at the scene of the collision shortly after the event. The captain, who has not been identified, is suspected of failing to stop and provide assistance to anyone in the water who may have been in need of rescue.

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