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(5th LD) Two more bodies believed to be S. Korean victims of Hungary boat sinking found

All Headlines 21:34 June 05, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in headline, lead, paras 1-7; TRIMS)
By Kim Seung-yeon

BUDAPEST/SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Two more bodies believed to be victims from among the 14 South Koreans still unaccounted for in last week's deadly boat sinking in Hungary were found on Wednesday, officials said.

A female body was found about 50 kilometers away from the sinking site on Wednesday afternoon (local time), South Korean government officials said. Investigators also found another body earlier in the day, which was retrieved by divers and sent to a hospital for identification.

A total of 33 Koreans and two Hungarian crew members were on the sightseeing boat amid heavy rain when their ship collided with a larger cruise boat and sank in the Danube River in downtown Budapest on Wednesday last week.

Seven South Koreans were initially reported to be dead, while seven other tourists were rescued right after the accident.

Investigators later recovered five bodies on Monday and Tuesday, which were all confirmed to be South Koreans.

The five bodies put the official death toll of the tragedy at 12 Koreans, with 14 others still unaccounted for.

If the two bodies retrieved on Wednesday are confirmed to be victims, the total death toll of South Koreans will rise to 14, along with 12 missing. The two Hungarian crew members also remain missing.

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

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 will embark on roping the ship, with the underwater and aerial search to find the missing to also continue, the Korean officials said.

To prevent the contents of the ship from being lost, the divers will cover the boat's damaged entrance in the middle section of the ship with a net.

Some of the glass windows will be cracked before lifting the wreck so as to drain water and lower the pressure.

The water level near the accident site was measured at 7.4 meters and the speed of the water at 4.5 km per hour as of Wednesday morning, a sharp drop from last week when the river was flooding from days of rainfall.

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.

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(END)

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