Bodies recovered as sunken Danube boat raised in Hungary

Efforts to raise sunken Danube tour boat starting in Hungary

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

Hungarian rescue officials said Monday they have almost completed their preparations to start the hard process of raising a sunken tour boat from the floor of the Danube River. It is not known how strong the hull of the 70-year-old boat is following the collision, salvage experts say. 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.

A rescue worker searches the inside of the sunken Mermaid sightseeing boat for victims during operations to pull the boat out of the Danube river in Budapest on June 11, 2019.

Rescue personnel could be seen early in the morning on a barge next to the partially raised boat carrying stretchers, each with a body bag on it.

Seven people were rescued and seven bodies quickly recovered but many of those on board the Mermaid were swept away in the swollen river. At one point, a member of the rescue crew fell into the fast-flowing water and had to be rescued after nearly being swept away.

The lift is planned in several stages, depending, for example, on the condition of the hull as the tour boat is raised off the river floor and the discovery of bodies in the wreckage.

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Once fully out of the water, the wreck of the Mermaid will be taken to a secure location and examined by police, who have launched a criminal investigation.

The captain of the river cruise boat, the Viking Sigyn, has been arrested on suspicion of "endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths".

Hungarian and South Korean rescuers are starting efforts to raise a sunken tour boat out of the Danube River after a fatal collision.

Hungarian police allowed the cruise to keep sailing two days after the accident, saying they had obtained enough evidence for the investigation.

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.

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