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(LEAD) S. Korea's recovery team for Hungary boat disaster to wrap up 2-month mission

Diplomacy 19:33 July 29, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS 2nd para; ADDS more info in paras 4-5)

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's team of rescue and recovery workers dispatched to Hungary in May to cope with a tourist boat disaster will wrap up its monthslong operations this week, the foreign ministry said Monday.

Seoul also decided to disband its disaster management headquarters for the boat sinking on Tuesday, when the last of the workers are set to depart for home from the mission to search for the victims of the tragedy that left 25 South Koreans dead and one missing.

The decision was made during a government disaster management meeting presided over by Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho.

"After withdrawing the recovery team and ending the operations of the headquarters, we will continue our efforts to search for the missing person, determine the cause of the incident and ensure accountability (for the sinking)," a ministry official said.

The sinking happened in the Danube River in Budapest on May 29 when the sightseeing boat carrying 33 Koreans and two Hungarian crew members collided with a Switzerland-registered cruise ship, causing it to capsize and sink.

The Hungarian authorities have pledged to conduct search operations for the last missing Korean victim until Aug. 19, the ministry said. After the operations are over, the Hungarian police will continue search activities around the scene of the sinking at a "normal level," it added.

To support the search operations, the Seoul government decided to extend by one month the term of a defense attache at the South Korean Embassy in Hungary, which was set to expire this month.

South Korea's Interior Minister Chin Young has sent a letter to his Hungarian counterpart, Sandor Pinter, to express Seoul's appreciation for Hungary's cooperation in the search operations and call for its continued support in finding the missing person.

This photo, taken June 4, 2019, shows Hungarian people mourning the victims of the sinking of a tourist boat in the Danube River in Budapest. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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