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(LEAD) FM stresses 'thorough' efforts to identify those responsible for Hungary boat sinking

Diplomacy 16:24 June 06, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 8-9)

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Thursday stressed the need to "thoroughly" identify those responsible for last week's boat sinking in Hungary that left 26 South Koreans dead or missing.

Kang made the remarks as the Hungarian authorities are seeking to salvage the sightseeing boat that sank near the Margaret Bridge in the Danube River in Budapest on May 29 after colliding with a larger Swiss cruise ship.

On Wednesday this week, three more bodies of victims in the disaster were recovered, bringing the total number of South Korean deaths to 15 and leaving 11 others unaccounted for. Two Hungarian crew members are still missing.

"(Hungarian authorities) are investigating the case, and (we believe), based on the results of the probe, emphasis should be put on the thorough identification of those responsible (for the sinking)," Kang told reporters at Incheon International Airport.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on June 6, 2019. (Yonhap)

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on June 6, 2019. (Yonhap)

Kang departed for Slovakia to attend multinational talks with the Visegrad Group of four central European states -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- on Friday.

On the sidelines of the talks, Kang plans to meet Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to discuss continued cooperation in handling the deadly sinking.

"I expect that (I and Szijjarto) will have in-depth discussions over the follow-up situations and what we will have to do down the road," Kang said.

After her visit to Slovakia, Kang will travel to Serbia on Friday to meet with top officials there, including Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic.

During the meetings, Kang plans to extend Seoul's appreciation for Serbia's support for search operations and call on it to further strengthen its operations along the border with Hungary.

Earlier in the day, Kang presided over a government disaster management session to discuss search and other operations at the scene, support for the victims' families, funeral procedures and investigations into the sinking.

At the session, participants also discussed whether there is a need to send more equipment and personnel to support search operations and ways to prevent the loss of any bodies and their belongings in the process of salvaging the ship from the riverbed.

The Hungarian authorities have mobilized a large floating crane, named Clark Adam, for the work to lift the ship. But the crane is currently docked about 5.5 kilometers away from the scene of the accident, as it could not pass through the Margaret Bridge due to high waters.

Hungary has sought to finish the work to lift the ship by Sunday, but the process could be delayed due to high waters.


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