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(3rd LD) 7 South Koreans killed, 19 missing in Hungary cruise sinking: foreign ministry

Diplomacy 09:59 May 30, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES throughout with details and President Moon's remarks; ADDS byline)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- Seven South Koreans died and 19 others went missing after a tourist boat carrying them capsized in a river in the capital of Hungary late Wednesday (local time).

A total of 33 Koreans and two Hungarian crew members were on the sightseeing cruise amid heavy rain, when their boat collided with another vessel and sank in the river in downtown Budapest at around 9 p.m., the foreign ministry in Seoul said.

Seven people have been rescued and a search is under way for 19 missing people, it added.

An AFP photo shows the scene of an accident on the Danube River in Hungary, where seven South Korean tourists have been confirmed dead after a tourist boat carrying them collided with another cruise on May 29, 2019. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in was briefed on the accident and instructed the government to use every possible means to rescue victims, according to presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung. Moon also ordered the formation of a government-level response team, Ko said.

The foreign ministry said it has set up an interagency government response team, which will be headed by Minister Kang Kyung-wha, to deal with the situation. The government said it will also soon dispatch a team of officials to Hungary, officials said.

No further details were known yet as to how and why the accident happened.

Strong currents due to heavy rainfall are apparently making the rescue operations difficult, foreign news reports said.

The sunken boat, called Hableany, meaning mermaid in Hungarian, was found near a bridge not far from the Hungarian parliament building. The boat was on a routine city sightseeing tour, according to news reports.

The South Korean Embassy in Hungary has launched an emergency team for the rescue and other consular efforts, and is closely coordinating with the local authorities, the ministry said.

elly@yna.co.kr
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