Raising of sunken Danube tour boat underway in Hungary

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The wreckage of a tour boat that sank in the Danube River on May 29 after a deadly collision was being lifted out of the river Tuesday morning in the Hungarian capital.

A huge floating crane, barges and rescue personnel were seen working early in the morning at Budapest's Margit Bridge, where the Hableany (Mermaid) sightseeing boat sank May 29 after colliding with a much larger river cruise ship.

The top of the Hableany, including what appeared to be the crushed roof of the boat's bridge, was visible, as were life jackets floating in the boat's hull.

The lift is planned in several stages, depending, for example, on the condition of the hull as the tour boat is raised off the river floor and also on whether any bodies are found in the wreckage.

Nineteen South Koreans and a Hungarian crewman have been confirmed dead, with eight people missing. Seven people were rescued after the nighttime collision amid heavy rain.

Rescue officials said Sunday that preparations for the lift, including divers installing four wire harnesses under the Hableany (Mermaid), were nearly complete, with some technical and security details pending.

Efforts to search for the missing victims of the accident and to raise the Hableany have been hindered by the Danube's high springtime water levels — which were expected to fall significantly over the coming days in Budapest — and the river's fast flow, as well as near-zero visibility under water.

The captain of the other ship in the collision, the Viking Sigyn, has been under arrest since June 1.

Police on Sunday carried out another inspection of the Viking Sigyn, which left Budapest less than 48 hours after the collision with the Hableany but was back in Hungary on a scheduled trip and docked at the town of Visegrad, north of Budapest.

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