Remembering the Danube Tourist Boat Collision

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Remembering the Danube Tourist Boat Collision

Photographer: Zoltan Balogh

Lieutenant Colonel Bettina Kutsera-Juhasz, Division Head of the Public Order Department of the Budapest Police Headquarters is portrayed at the victims’ memorial near the scene of the accident, at the Pest embankment of Margaret Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, 17 July 2019. ’Like all well-meaning people, I was shaken when I learned about the accident, and as a professional, the urge to help came over me right away’, she recalls. Her colleagues closed off the northern side of the Margaret Bridge and the Pest embankment around the bridge from pedestrians to pay respect to the victims, primarily. At the same time, they had to provide access to the flower and candle tribute to relatives and members of the public who wished to commemorate the victims. On 29 May 2019, a local sightseeing boat, the Hableany, carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian staff crashed into the large Viking Sigyn river cruise ship and sank in the River Danube in Budapest. Seven tourists were rescued after the collision, the others died, one South Korean passenger is still missing. EPA-EFE/Zoltan Balogh The Hableany sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian staff crashed into the Viking Sigyn large river cruise ship and sank in the River Danube on 29 May 2019. Only seven tourists were rescued after the collision, with the rest of the passengers perishing in the frigid waters of the flowing river.

The tragic loss of life triggered a powerful and immediate response from members of Hungary’s security and emergency response units, many of whom raced to help the stricken boats and drowning passengers.

Dozens of people, including firefighters, marines, soldiers and police, as well as civilian boat operators and employees from nearby vessels, describe in intimate detail the harrowing rescue operation to save the victims of a tragedy that unfolded in the heart of one of Europe’s busiest capital cities, the massive scale of the salvage operation that followed and how they toiled in both physically and emotionally extreme conditions.