The captain of inland marine cruise ship Viking Sigyn (MMSI 269057695), which collided with pleasure boat Hableany on the River Danube in Budapest on May 29th, killing 28 people, was not the captain of another boat that was in an accident in the Netherlands, Viking Cruises has said, correcting the Hungarian prosecutors who had claimed that the Viking Sigyn’s captain, currently under arrest in Hungary, had captained another vessel that was involved in an accident on April 1st in the Netherlands.
“We can confirm that even though the Captain of the Viking Sigyn was onboard the Viking Idun on April 1st , he was not serving as the ship’s Captain at the time of the incident. Viking Idun was under the command of another Captain,” a Viking spokesperson told Reuters, adding that “we are unable to comment further while the investigations of both incidents are ongoing.”
The Viking Sigyn’s captain has been identified by police as C Yuriy from Odessa, a 64-year-old Ukrainian. He is being held as a suspect. His lawyers have said that he is devastated but continues to maintain that he did nothing wrong.
The prosecutors also claimed on Thursday June 6th that the captain had “deleted data from his phone” after the collision in Budapest. They said it was unclear whether the data was related to the accident.
The Viking Idun river ship was reported to have collided with a cargo vessel while sailing from Antwerp to Ghent. According to a Viking statement cited in media nobody on the Idun was injured.
Seven South Koreans were rescued alive. A further 19 bodies have been recovered, while nine people are officially listed as missing and presumed dead, including a South Korean child and one Hungarian crewmember.
The Budapest disaster occurred in heavy rain. In the week since, flooding on the river has receded, allowing divers to reach the wreck and recover some of the bodies. Corpses have also begun to surface at the wreck site and further downstream.
South Korea fingerprints all adult citizens, which has helped forensic experts identify all of the bodies recovered to date
Divers have been welding hooks and inserted rods under the sunken tourist boat, in difficult conditions. Once the gear is in place, a giant floating salvage crane (sheerleg Adam Clark) will be used to lift the wreck. That could have been put in place over the weekend, although conditions on the river remain unpredictable so delays were possible.
At the request of the National Water Authority, Slovak authorities upstream have agreed to divert water into reservoirs to help lower the river level, so the floating crane can pass under Budapest’s bridges to reach the site. The Danube is expected to reach its normal depth by next Wednesday, the OVF said. Water levels were said to have been receding more slowly than had been anticipated.
Four more bodies pulled from the water on June 7th were identified as three South Korean passengers and one crew member.
The recovery operation, mounted by Hungarian and South Korean divers, has been hampered by flood waters and strong currents in the river.
“We have six patrol boats in Budapest… and a further nine downstream from the capital… all the way to the Serbian border,” the captain of the Danube Waterborne Police, Richard Prohaszka, said on Friday. “We use sonar, night vision equipment and canine units.”
Dogs have located three of the victims along the riverbank, Prohaszka said.
The body of the Hungarian deck hand was found late on Thursday after washing ashore near a busy Budapest embankment.