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World Floating crane lifts sunken tour boat in Hungary; several bodies recovered

The Mermaid, a Hungarian boat which sank in the Danube River near Margaret Bridge, is lifted from the water during a salvage operation in Budapest, Hungary, on June 11, 2019.

MARKO DJURICA/Reuters

Several bodies were recovered from the wreckage of a tour boat that sank in the Danube River as it was lifted out of the river Tuesday morning in the Hungarian capital.

A huge floating crane, barges and rescue personnel were working early in the morning at Budapest’s Margit Bridge, where the Hableany (Mermaid) sightseeing boat sank May 29 after colliding with a much larger river cruise ship.

The top of the Hableany was visible, as life jackets floated in the boat’s hull.

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Divers were searching the boat for more victims. Rescuers carried away four body bags on stretchers to a small police cruise boat waiting nearby.

Nineteen South Korean tourists and a Hungarian crewman have previously been confirmed dead, with eight people still missing. Seven people were rescued after the nighttime collision amid heavy rain.

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.

The plan detailed Monday by rescuers is to lift the Hableany with the floating crane and place it on a long barge. The boat will then be handed over to police investigating the collision.

Efforts to search for the missing victims of the accident 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.

The captain of the other ship in the collision, the Viking Sigyn, has been under arrest since June 1, suspected of endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident.

The Viking Sigyn, which left Budapest less than 48 hours after the collision with the Hableany, is back in Hungary on a scheduled trip and docked at the town of Visegrad, north of Budapest. Police said they carried out another inspection on the ship on Monday.

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