Hungary boat accident: Bodies found in vessel recovery

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Efforts to search for the missing victims of the collision and to raise the Hableany have been hindered by the Danube's high springtime water levels - which are expected to fall significantly over the coming days in Budapest - and the river's fast flow, as well as near-zero visibility under water.

Nineteen South Korean tourists and a Hungarian crewman were previously confirmed to have died, with eight people still listed as missing.

People watch as a 200-ton lift capacity crane manoeuvres into position near the Margaret bridge on the Danube river, Monday, June 10, 2019, preparing to salvage to sunken shipwreck from the scene of a deadly boat accident in Budapest, Hungary.

The lifting operation began at around 6 am (0400 GMT) and six hours later the Mermaid tourist boat was nearly entirely out of the water. The operation to lift the vessel out of the river onto a waiting barge began at around 6:00 am (0400 GMT) and took more than six hours to complete.

Rescuers plan to lift the boat unto a barge and hand it over to police, who are continuing their investigation into the May 29 collision between the Hableany and the Viking Sigyn, a much larger river cruise ship.

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Footage from the site of recovery showed the cabin and upper deck of the boat emerge from the water and divers then carry out a search for victims still trapped inside.

Seven people were rescued and seven bodies quickly recovered but many of those on board the Mermaid were swept away in the swollen river. Hungarian police, who led the team of divers and experts, initially estimated the lifting would take around six hours, but work was delayed several times. After the incident, the boat had travelled on to Germany before returning to Hungary according to its schedule.

The Mermaid accident happened on a popular part of the Danube river for pleasure trips, from where passengers can view the city and parliament building illuminated at night.

The Ukrainian captain of the larger boat, the Viking Sigyn, has been held on suspicion of endangering water transport, although he denies he did anything wrong.

Dozens of small sightseeing boats ply the river through Budapest every day.

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