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17 October
Thursday

World

Submarine search operations for missing persons in Hungary have failed

It is hoped that the water level and the speed of the river will decrease

Photo: Yonhap

/NOVOSTIVL/ The search for mostly South Korean victims from the sunken sightseeing boat Hableany continued on the Danube River in Hungary, Sunday, as harsh weather conditions that have hampered operations by the local authorities persisted. This article appeared in The Korea Times.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian captain of the larger sightseeing vessel that collided with the Hableany, causing it to capsize, was arrested the previous day on charges of negligence.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a Hungarian judge issued an arrest warrant for the captain, identified as Yuriy C., whose Viking Sigyn ran into the rear of the smaller boat Wednesday, resulting in its sinking. Of the 33 South Koreans on board the Halbeany, seven have been confirmed dead, seven were rescued, and 19 are still missing, along with the two Hungarian crewmembers.

"The government will continue to request the cooperation of the Hungarian authorities in swiftly ascertaining the cause of the sinking," said Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho, who presided over an emergency meeting of related ministers in Seoul, Sunday.

The arrest of the captain came three days after he was detained and questioned by Hungarian police right after the sinking of the sightseeing boat.

"The suspicion of negligence is supported by reports from the scene, and photographs and video recordings," the judge was quoted as saying to AP. The captain faces from two to eight years imprisonment if he is found guilty of negligence resulting in the deaths of others, the media reported. A lawyer representing him claimed his client was innocent and the arrest was made only because he was a Ukrainian citizen.

Following the deadly incident, the government sent an emergency response team to Hungary consisting of officials from several sources including the presidential office, foreign ministry, National Police Agency and the National Emergency Management Agency to liaise with the authorities there. Members of a South Korean emergency rescue team may join in the search efforts with their Hungarian counterparts, the government added.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, returned to Korea, Sunday, after spending three days in Hungary assessing the situation and response to the disaster. She met with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Interior Minister Sandor Pinter and requested prompt search and rescue, and salvage operations. In addition, Kang asked them to seek the help of neighboring countries through which the Danube flows. The foreign ministry has also asked for help from Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

To assist in the Hungarian efforts, Austria sent a rescue team to Budapest, while Serbia and the Czech Republic have been conducting search operations in the Danube River. The latter tried to use submersible drones in their search Saturday but were foiled by the strength of the river flow.

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