THE captain a cruise ship involved in a fatal crash with a sightseeing boat in Budapest has been taken into police custody.
Seven people died and another 21 are feared dead after the tourist vessel capsized and sank near the Hungarian Parliament on Wednesday.
Police said the 64-year-old Ukrainian man is suspected of endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident.
The suspect was identified only as Yuriy C, from Odessa.
A criminal investigation has launched into the accident, police say.
A crane ship docked near the wreck yesterday in preparation for recovery operations and divers prepared equipment.
Police said rescuing was hampered by high water levels, strong currents and poor visibility.
A spokesman said: “Those who were trapped in the hull or were stuck underneath can be lifted only once the wreckage is pulled out.”
Authorities have been desperately searching for survivors but are no longer hopeful they will find anyone alive.
The passengers, the majority believed to be South Korean, were not wearing life jackets when they plunged into the water.
The 33 South Koreans included 30 tourists on a package tour of Europe and were booked onto the trip by South Korea-based “Very Good Tour” agency.
The passengers who have been rescued are suffering from hypothermia after the accident but they are said to be in a stable condition.
The 89ft river boat, owned by Panorama Deck Boating company was moored near the Hungarian Parliament building when it was hit by the 442ft Viking Sigyn floating hotel.
The catastrophic scenes broke out in the heart of one of the city’s main tourist hot spots — near the iconic 18th century Chain Bridge.
Pal Gyorfi, a spokesperson for the national ambulance service said: “As an ambulance spokesman, I am not inclined to say there is no hope, so I would rather say there is a minimal chance (to find more survivors).”
It is understood water began flooding into the boat due to strong currents when it overturned near the Hungarian parliament building. A severe rainstorm has also been lashing the city.
The chilly water was around only 10C and the current was strong — one passenger was found two miles from the scene of the crash.
State television said there were 32 tourists and two crew on board.
Fourteen people have been lifted from the river so far, seven of them dead, state TV reported.
The news web site Index.hu cited the boat’s owner as reporting that the boat, called Mermaid, had sunk.
CCTV captures the moment that the floating hotel plows into the small 70-year-old boat[/caption]
The Viking Sigyn hotelship was the vessel that the tourist boat collided with last night[/caption]
It has been left with damage to the paintwork – a far cry from the tragic end for the other boat and the passengers[/caption]
Budapest police have closed the bank of the Danube where the boat capsized[/caption]
Rescue efforts were under way with more than a dozen vehicles visible several hundred metres downstream from the site of the accident.
Eighteen people were accounted for, with three dead and sixteen missing, state media reported, citing authorities.
At least one tourist had to be revived, the National Ambulance Service told state news agency MTI.
Deadly tourist boat accidents
17 people died after a tourist duck boat carrying more than 30 people capsized at Table Rock Lake in Missouri on July 19, 2018.
In 1999, a DUKW sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas, killing 13 of the 20 people on board.
On June 23, 2002, the Lady Duck sank while on a cruise on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada.
Six passengers, the driver, and the tour guide escaped, but four passengers were trapped under the sunken vehicle’s canopy and drowned.
On July 7, 2010, a regulated and modern Ride the Ducks amphibious bus was disabled by an engine fire and later run over by a barge on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
Thirty-three passengers and two crew members were quickly recovered, but two passengers, a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, both part of a tour group from Hungary, were killed.
It was September 29, 2013, when tourists leapt for their lives into the Thames after an
inferno engulfed an amphibious duck bus in London.
On May 8, 2015, a Ride the Ducks boat struck and killed a woman crossing the street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chinatown section.
On September 24, 2015, a Ride the Ducks vehicle in Seattle, Washington, crashed into a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge, killing five passengers on the bus, critically injuring eight, and seriously injuring eight more.
On April 29, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, a 29-year-old woman was killed after the motor scooter she was operating collided with a Duck Boat, as both vehicles turned on to Beacon Street adjacent to the Boston Common.
On July 19, 2018, in Branson, Missouri, 11 people died and at least 13 were injured after a duck boat carrying 31 people capsized in Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm.
Cops say that it turned over and sank in about seven seconds and have said that there is an investigation into the sinking.
Police spokesperson Adrian Pal said it could take days to raise the boat from the river bed and didn’t confirm whether there could still be bodies trapped inside the hull.
The 70-year-old Mermaid was described on Panorama Deck’s website as “one of the smallest members of the fleet”.
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It holds 60 people, or 45 for sightseeing cruises on board its two decks.
Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for the company said it was a “routine city sightseeing trip” and told state television that he had “no information about any technical problems with the boat, which he had serviced regularly.”