With bells and flowers, Hungary marks anniversary of Danube boat disaster


BUDAPEST (Reuters) – With the tolling of a bell and a wreath lowered into the water, Hungary marked the second anniversary on Saturday of a Budapest boat accident which killed 27 people, mostly South Korean tourists, in the worst river accident on the Danube in decades.

The 135-metre (443 ft) Swiss river cruiser Viking Sigyn hit a 27-metre (88 ft) tourist boat called Mermaid, causing it to capsize and sink under a bridge during heavy rain on the evening of May 29, 2019.

“It is still very strange to be here,” said Zsolt Sogor, a legal representative of the company that owned the Mermaid. “I am here because there are many for whom this day opens deep wounds.”

After a sailor lowered the wreath into the river from a boat, those on board threw flowers into the water to remember the victims at the commemoration event, led by the Hungarian Ecumenical Church.

Of 33 passengers and two crew members, only seven Korean passengers survived. One South Korean tourist who was onboard remains missing.

The survivors are due to give testimony at the next hearing of the trial, which began more than a year ago, on Sept. 21, Sogor said.

In November 2019, Hungarian prosecutors charged the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn, identified as C. Yuriy from Odessa, with misconduct leading to mass casualties and 35 counts of failing to provide help.

His lawyers have said he was devastated but did nothing wrong. The captain could face between two and 11 years in prison if he is found guilty.

A verdict is expected early next year.

(Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo; Writing by Marton Dunai; Editing by Alison Williams)

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