Sussex eye-witness account of Budapest tourist boat tragedy

Hungarian authorities search for remains from a tourist boat that capsized on the Danube river last night (Photo by David Balogh/Getty Images)
Hungarian authorities search for remains from a tourist boat that capsized on the Danube river last night (Photo by David Balogh/Getty Images)

Sussex journalist Phil Hewitt has described the moment Budapest was struck by tragedy after a tourist boat capsized and sunk, leaving at least seven people dead.

Phil, who is our entertainments editor across our West Sussex titles and currently on holiday in the capital of Hungary, was with his wife Fiona when the tragedy unfolded.

A Viking Cruises 'Sigyn' sightseeing boat is moored on the banks of the Danube River (Photo by David Balogh/Getty Images)

A Viking Cruises 'Sigyn' sightseeing boat is moored on the banks of the Danube River (Photo by David Balogh/Getty Images)

“We came out of a restaurant this evening (Wednesday, May 29) and were walking beside the Danube and all we could hear were sirens, endless police cars and ambulances whizzing backwards and forwards along the Pest side of the river.

“A passerby told us that two boats had hit each other a quarter of a mile from where we were and lots of people were in the water.

“We could see police boats racing across the river to a spot near the parliament building maybe ten minutes further along the river.

“It was very dark and it has been raining very, very heavily for about six hours now.”

It is believed the river boat was carrying 35 people, including 30 tourists, two guides and a photographer from South Korea, as well as two Hungarian crew members.

Our sister paper, the i, has reported the tour party was making its return journey after an hour-long night tour on Wednesday when the vessel collided with a larger cruise ship near the parliament building on the Danube river at around 10pm (8pm GMT).

It has been reported the tourist boat sunk within seconds of the collision.

The Cruise line operator Viking said one of its ships, the Sigyn, was involved in the collision.

According to the i newspaper, seven people have been confirmed dead by South Korea’s foreign ministry. They include six women and one man, aged between 31 and 66.

Nineteen people from South Korea and the two Hungarian crew members remain missing, while seven people have been rescued.

According to the foreign ministry, none of the tourists were wearing life jackets.

Most of the people on the tour were family groups and included a six-year-old girl. Her name does not appear on the list of survivors.

No one aboard the Viking ship was injured, according to the cruise liner.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has instructed officials to employ “all available resources” to support the rescue effort in Hungary and a criminal investigation has been launched.