South Korean rescuers to help in Hungary boat crash that killed at least seven

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – South Korea is sending its own rescue workers to Hungary to support rescue efforts following a deadly boat accident in Budapest involving 33 South Koreans.

Seven people are confirmed dead, 21 others are missing and seven have been rescued so far.

The team including 25 members from the country’s national fire agency, navy and coast guard were on their way Thursday.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the team includes rescue workers who had been involved in the rescue operations for a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people in South Korea — one of the country’s biggest maritime accidents.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss rescue operations.

Police said Thursday that the small sightseeing boat, the “Hableany” (“Mermaid”), crashed with the Viking boat at 9:05 p.m. local time Wednesday night beneath the Margit Bridge.

“Both ships were heading north … and when they arrived between two pillars of the Margit Bridge, for some reason the Hableany turned in front of the Viking ship. As the Viking comes into contact with it, it overturns it and in about seven seconds, as it turned on its side, it sank,” Police Col. Adrian Pal told reporters.

Video footage showed that the two vessels were traveling closely side by side as they approached the bridge in central Budapest. It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.

“Several people fell into the water from the ‘Hableany’,” Pal said.

CCTV footage recorded on Wednesday night showed that the river was busy with boats of different sizes traveling in both directions.

Seoul’s presidential Blue House said Thursday that Moon thanked Orban over the Hungarian government’s rescue efforts, and requested further support for efforts to find the missing, treat the survivors and recover bodies.

The Blue House says Orban told Moon that more than 200 divers and medical staff are involved in the rescue efforts and that officials are planning to locate and hoist the ship.

A South Korean travel agency says 38 relatives of the South Korean tourists who were on board a sightseeing boat that capsized in Budapest are on their way to the Hungarian capital.

Lee Sang-moo from the Very Good Tour company said Thursday that the family members will be flown in on four flights and will arrive in Budapest on Friday afternoon and evening.

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