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(LEAD) 3 bodies recovered in Danube, 2 confirmed as S. Korean victims of boat sinking

All Headlines 09:55 June 05, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more updates and info in paras 3,5 and 7-11; ADDS byline and photo)
By Kim Seung-yeon

BUDAPEST/SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Three more bodies have been retrieved from the Danube River, and two of them were confirmed to be South Koreans missing in last week's deadly sinking of a sightseeing boat, officials said Wednesday.

Should all of them be confirmed to be Koreans, it would raise the death toll of the May 29 boat sinking in Budapest to 12 Koreans, with 14 others still unaccounted for. Two Hungarian crew members also remain missing. Seven other Korean passengers were rescued right after the accident.

A first body was found by a Hungarian chopper some 55 kilometers away from the sinking site at around 1 p.m. Tuesday (Budapest time), and the victim was later found to be a South Korean in his 60s, according to officials of the government's quick response team in Budapest.

About 1 1/2 hours later, the second body was pulled from underwater at the accident site. He is presumed to be a South Korean victim, but more analysis is required before confirming his identification, according to the officials.

"The victim retrieved at the site was stuck in between glass of a door on the hull," South Korean defense attache Song Shun-keun told reporters in Budapest.

The third body was found some 50 km from the site, who was confirmed to be a South Korean in his 20s.

South Korean and Hungarian workers prepare to go into the waters in the Danube River on June 4, 2019, to search for missing victims in last week's sinking of a tourist boat in Budapest. (Yonhap)

Workers have recovered five bodies since they began sending divers into the water Monday as part of preparations for underwater search and salvaging operations.

Bodies of a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s were found the previous day, over 100 km away downstream and near the accident site, respectively.

South Korea has sought Hungary's permission to search inside the wreck to find more victims, but Hungarian authorities have disapproved it over safety concerns and preferred to take steps to lift the boat first from the river.

Hungary is set to start salvaging work later this week, once the water levels are stable enough to move and set up the crane at the sinking site. Until then, an underwater search around the wreck will continue, the officials said.

Korea has sent additional equipment to Budapest to better help the search efforts, including a Surface Supplied Diving System (SSDS), designed to supply breathing gas to and communicate with the diver from the shore, Seoul's foreign ministry said earlier.

elly@yna.co.kr

graceoh@yna.co.kr
(END)

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