Europe

Hungary tourist boat accident: Captain also involved in Dutch boat crash

Rescuers on Danube Image copyright EPA
Image caption Rescuers continue to try and recover bodies from the Danube in Budapest

The captain of a cruise ship involved in a fatal crash in Budapest last week was behind a similar collision in the Netherlands in April, prosecutors said.

The Viking Sigyn crashed into a tourist boat, the Mermaid, on the Danube, on 29 May. The Mermaid then sank, killing 28.

The captain, a 64-year-old Ukrainian national named as Yuriy C, was later arrested. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said he was the captain of a cruise ship involved in a non-fatal crash in April in the Netherlands.

Viking Cruises operates both vessels. In a statement late on Thursday, the cruise company insisted that while Yuriy C was on board the ship involved in the Dutch collision, the Viking Idun, he was not serving as captain at the time.

It said the Idun was under the control of another captain.

Yuriy C has also been accused of deleting data from his phone following the fatal crash in the Hungarian capital. Prosecutors said it was unclear whether the deleted data was related to the incident.

What happened in the crash in the Netherlands?

According to prosecutors, Yuriy C was the captain of cruise ship that collided with a cargo vessel near the Dutch town of Terneuzen while sailing between the Belgian towns of Antwerp to Ghent on 1 April.

Prosecutors said that Eurojust - an EU law enforcement network - confirmed that he captained the ship that crashed in the Netherlands, but did not give further details.

Images taken in the aftermath and posted on social media showed the Viking Idun with huge areas appearing to have been scraped off the side, while others showed the extent of the damage inside the ship.

No one was killed in the Netherlands crash, but reports said that some passengers had suffered minor injuries.

What happened in Budapest?

The Viking Sigyn cruise ship hit the Mermaid after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on 29 May. It was the worst crash on the Danube in more than 50 years.

Most of those onboard the tourist ship were from South Korea, and were aged between 40 and 50. But the group also included a six-year-old child and a man in his 70s, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe tour boat sank seconds after a collision with another vessel

The bodies of seven passengers were recovered on the night of the disaster, and another seven tourists were rescued alive.

Since then, a total of 17 bodies have been recovered. Another 11 people are officially missing, presumed dead.

Officials said on Thursday that all of the bodies found so far have been identified, mainly because South Korea holds fingerprint data on all of its adult citizens.

Viking Cruises said in a statement last week that it was cooperating with the Hungarian investigation.

More on this story