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(LEAD) 2 more S. Korean victims found, death toll 18 in Hungary boat sinking

All Headlines 18:56 June 07, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS updated info in paras 7-8, 10th para)

BUDAPEST/SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The bodies of two more South Koreans have been found from last week's deadly sinking of a tourist boat in Hungary, officials said, raising the number of Korean deaths to 18 with eight others still missing.

The Hableany pleasure boat was carrying 33 Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew members when it capsized and sank on May 29 after being hit by a larger Swiss cruise ship from behind. Seven Koreans were rescued right after the accident.

On Thursday, three bodies were retrieved from the waters and two of them were confirmed to be a South Korean man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s, the government response team from Seoul dispatched to the site told reporters. The third body was a Hungarian.

The Korean man was found 5.8 kilometers away from the accident site. The female victim was discovered 40 km from where the ship sank. They were both found by local residents, officials said.

Search operations had been hampered by high waters due to heavy rainfall. The authorities sent divers into the river on Monday to search for the missing and start preparing for salvaging the ship.

Hungary has been working to lift the vessel using a crane, which has been docked at a quay close to the accident site. But high water levels are preventing it being moved closer to the scene.

A South Korean official told reporters that the Hungarian government is likely to try to raise the boat by using a crane on Sunday if the crane successfully passes through a bridge to reach the scene and necessary measures are taken to guarantee that what remains inside the boat does not go missing in the process.

The work is expected to take around four hours.

As an alternative, Hungary is also said to be looking into using a floating dock. Once the wreck is tied to it, a floating dock could submerge into the water and raise the ship as it returns to the surface.

The South Korean official explained that Hungarian authorities will likely seek to use a crane first since using a floating dock could risk causing the boat to shake too much.

Hungarian officials on a diving platform prepare for search and salvaging operations in the Danube River in central Budapest, Hungary, on June 6, 2019, for the sunken sightseeing boat that led to 18 deaths of South Korean tourists and left eight others missing. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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