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The Latest: Death toll rises to 19 in Danube tour boat crash

June 6, 2019
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A power shovel fixed onto a pontoon works in Danube river near Margaret Bridge, the scene of a boat accident, in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, June 6, 2019. Search operations continue in Budapest after a sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean tourists was crashed into by a large river cruise ship and sank on May 29, killing at least fifteen tourists. (Marton Monus/MTI via AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Latest on the fatal Danube River boating accident in Hungary’s capital (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

Hungarian police say the death toll from the tour boat that capsized and sank last week after colliding in Budapest with a cruise ship has risen to 19.

Police said the bodies of a female South Korean tourist and one of the two Hungarian crewmen were recovered Thursday.

Eight South Koreans and the other crew member are still missing. Only seven tourists aboard the Hableany (Mermaid) are known to have survived the May 29 crash.

Efforts to lift the Hableany out of the water have been hindered by the Danube’s high water level.

Also, Viking River Cruises, the owners of the Viking Sigyn cruise ship which collided with the Hableany, said its captain, who is under arrest in Budapest, was aboard another Viking ship when it collided in the Netherlands with a tanker earlier this year.

However, the firm said he was “not serving as the ship’s captain at the time of the incident.”

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5:30 p.m.

A Hungarian rescue official says divers are setting up harnesses and lifting points on the sunken tour boat in the Danube River so it can be raised by a massive floating crane.

Nandor Jasenszky said Thursday that preparations are expected to be concluded by Friday, but the crane will only be able to carry out its tasks when Danube water levels allow. After falling significantly in the first days of the week, the Danube rose several inches over the past 24 hours due to melting snow in its upper basin.

Sixteen of the 33 South Koreans aboard the sightseeing boat died after a collision with a larger cruise ship in Budapest on May 29. Twelve people are still missing, including the two-man Hungarian crew, and seven were rescued.

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15:30

Hungarian prosecutors say that the Ukrainian captain whose river cruise ship was in a deadly collision in Budapest with a Danube sightseeing boat, was also involved in a collision in the Netherlands on April 1.

The Budapest Chief Prosecution Office also said Thursday that the captain erased data from his mobile phone after the May 29 accident in Budapest, but could not confirm yet that the missing information was connected to the accident.

Sixteen of the 33 South Koreans aboard the tour boat are confirmed dead, while 12 people, including the two Hungarian crewmembers, are still missing. Seven South Koreans were rescued.

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1 p.m.

South Korean fingerprint experts are assisting Hungarian officials in identifying the South Korean victims of last week’s tour boat accident in Budapest.

Fifteen of the 33 South Koreans aboard the Hableany (Mermaind) tour boat died after a collision with a river cruise ship, with 13 more, including the two Hungarian crew members, still missing. Seven South Koreans were rescued after May 29 accident.

South Korean Police Chief Superintendent Im Byung-ho said Thursday that special techniques allow fingerprints to be taken even from bodies that have spent up to three months in the water.

Officials said that after fingerprints are sent to South Korea, a preliminary identification is available in an hour, while written confirmation of the deceased’s identity usually arrives in three hours.

The lifting of the Hableany from the river floor with a massive floating crane is being delayed by the Danube’s high water levels.

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9:40

Hungarian police say two more bodies have been recovered from the Danube River tour boat crash, raising the death toll to 15, with 11 of the 33 South Koreans on board and the two Hungarian crew members still missing.

Seven South Korean tourists were rescued after the May 29 collision between the Hableany (Mermaid) sightseeing boat and the Viking Sigyn river cruise ship.

A huge floating crane may be able to lift the Hableany out of the water in the coming days.

However, the Adam Clark, named after the Scottish engineer who oversaw construction of Budapest’s Chain Bridge completed in 1849, was docked Thursday in north Budapest, as the Danube’s high water level is not allowing it to reach the site of the wreckage, near the Hungarian Parliament building.

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