LONDON – The captain of a river cruise ship that was involved in a fatal accident on the Danube in Budapest last week was involved in a boat accident in the Netherlands in April, the Hungarian prosecutor said Friday.
The one-year Ukrainian captain, who was identified by the police only as C.Yuriy, had served as the ship's first officer in the Netherlands and was interviewed as a suspect, said Ferenc Rab, a spokesman for the Budapest Public Prosecutor's phone.
The ship on which the Ukrainian at the time, the Viking Idun, had collided with an oil tanker near the port of Terneuzen on the Dutch coast, damaging both ships and causing minor injuries, the Dutch said Public broadcaster. Viking River Cruises, a Swiss-based tour operator, confirmed in an e-mail that the captain had been on Viking Idun at the time of the accident in the Netherlands.
The captain was arrested after his ship, the 442-foot Viking Sigyn, rammed an 89-foot excursion boat called Mermaid from behind on May 29 and capsized the smaller ship in the Danube. Nineteen people were confirmed to have been killed, and officials were looking for nine other people, eight passengers and one crew member, who were missing on Thursday, police said.
Most victims were tourists from South Korea who had gone aboard the Mermaid An evening of sailing through the heart of Budapest, an increasingly popular route on the bustling Danube. The accident was also one of the deadliest accidents in South Korea since the Sewol Fatal Disaster in 2014. South Korea sent its own rescue team to help with the search, including members of the Navy and the Coast Guard.
According to Rab It was established that the captain had deleted data from his phone between the time of the Budapest collision and the seizure of his phone by the authorities. That added ammunition to the prosecutors, who appealed against the decision to give the captain a bail.
Up to 70 miles south of Budapest, the Hungarian capital, corpses have emerged Danube. The authorities searched the entire Hungarian section of the river south of the city. Divers worked under difficult conditions, with no visibility and with the risk of being carried away by the flood. 15 boats helped with the effort on a 120-mile stretch of the river.
A floating crane that used to build bridges over the Danube and remove wrecks from the river bed was ready to assist the mermaid in lifting the river bed of the Danube. However, a rise in the water level forecast for the coming days could delay the recovery.
Officials of the Hungarian Waterway Authority said on Friday that Slovakia, the northern neighbor of the country, was ready to temporarily manage the water level on the Danube to help accelerate the withdrawal of the river and rescuers, the state intelligence agency MTI reported.
In the e-mailed statement, Viking River Cruises said that both investigations – on the accidents in Budapest and the Netherlands – continued.