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7 dead, 20 missing after sightseeing boat sinks in Hungary

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Seven people were confirmed dead and at least 20 were missing early Thursday after a sightseeing boat carrying at least 32 South Korean passengers and two crew members collided with another vessel and sank in the Danube River in downtown Budapest.

Rescue officials said seven bodies had been recovered. Pal Gyorfi, spokesman for the National Ambulance Service, said seven people were rescued and hospitalized in stable condition following the accident Wednesday night.

There was some confusion about the total number of people involved. National police spokesman Kristof Gal said 33 South Koreans were on the boat, while the boat's operator and others said it carried 32 passengers. The two crew members were identified as Hungarian.

Employees from the South Korean Embassy in Budapest were assisting Hungarian officials in identifying those rescued and the deceased.

Officials said searchers were checking the Danube for miles downriver from Budapest. The river was fast-flowing and rising as heavy rain continued in the city.

Earlier, the news website Index.hu said one of the people rescued was found near the Petofi Bridge, which is about two miles south of Parliament.

Dozens of rescue personnel, including from the military and divers, were involved in the search.

The boat that sank was identified as the "Hableany" (Mermaid), which is described on the sightseeing company's website as "one of the smallest members of the fleet." It has two decks and a capacity for 60 people, or 45 for sightseeing cruises.

Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for the Panorama Deck boating company, said the "Hableany" was on a "routine city sightseeing trip" when the accident happened. He told state television that he had no information about any technical problems with the boat, which he said was serviced regularly.

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