NATIONAL

Minister pins hope on int’l cooperation to find missing tourists

By Park Han-na
  • Published : Jun 3, 2019 - 16:53
  • Updated : Jun 3, 2019 - 20:03

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa pledged Monday to enhance cooperation with European countries to find the missing South Korean tourists who were on board a boat that collided with a cruise ship on the Danube River in Budapest last week.

Twenty-one people are still missing. Seven have been confirmed dead, and seven others were rescued.


Members of the Hungarian rescue team work on a pontoon moored near Margaret Bridge, the scene of the accident as operations to prepare the recovery of the capsized boat continue in Budapest, Hungary, Monday. (EPA-Yonhap)


“We will further strengthen cooperation with the Hungarian government and the coastal countries, such as Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, to achieve substantial progress in the search for the missing people,” Kang said during a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.

She returned to Seoul on Sunday after visiting the site of the boat accident in Budapest with her Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, on Friday.

“Minister Szijjarto agreed to not give up hope for the last person and (Interior) Minister Pinter promised to use all available resources to make every possible effort,” she said.

A total of 33 South Korean tourists and tour guides as well as two Hungarian crew members were onboard the Hableany when it sank after being hit from behind by a larger Swiss cruise ship, Viking Sigyn, near the Margaret Bridge on the Danube River in central Budapest around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

No additional survivors and deaths have been reported since Thursday.

President Moon Jae-in, who was briefed by Minister Kang on Monday, expressed his deepest condolences over the tragic deaths and to the family members whose loved ones have been affected by the accident.

“The government is doing its best in cooperation with the Hungarian government. I’m agonized because rescue and search works have been under restrictions due to various bad conditions,” he said.

As rescue operations have been hindered due to the fast-flowing and storm-swelled river, Hungarian emergency workers have downplayed the possibility of finding any more survivors.

Moon has expressed gratitude to the governments of Hungary, Australia and Czech for their cooperation and for providing necessary equipment for search operations.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will ask Hungary to seek a court order to put a lien on the cruise ship Viking Sigyn. The move is part of preparations to seek damages and compensation from the cruise operator.

The Hungarian authorities had allowed the Swiss vessel to depart, saying they had secured the necessary evidence from the ship.

The captain of the Viking Sigyn, a 64-year-old Ukrainian national, was arrested Saturday on the charge of reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)


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