Late last month, Hungarian prosecutors charged the Ukrainian Captain of a Swiss owned river cruise ship with misconduct leading to mass casualties and 35 counts of failing to provide help in a disaster.
Last May, Viking Cruises’ ‘Viking Sigyn’ sank another cruise boat in a collision on the River Danube in Budapest, killing 27 people on a smaller cruise vessel, ‘Mermaid’.
According to a Reuters report, the tourist vessel ‘Mermaid’, with 35 people on board, sank after being hit by the river cruiser under a bridge during heavy rain.
Twenty five of those killed on board ‘Mermaid’ were South Koreans. The smaller ship’s captain and her crew member also died. One Korean is still missing, local authorities said.
‘Mermaid’ reportedly overtook the Viking river cruise ship and had the right of way, as it attempted to navigate under the bridge, prosecutors said. However, the captain of the larger cruiser increased speed, even though the smaller boat was in clear view and also visible on the radar.
“The captain failed to pay sufficient attention, he did not focus on steering the ship for several minutes,” the prosecutors said, adding that the captain failed to keep a safe distance and did not send the radio and sound signals needed when overtaking, Reuters said.
“(After the collision) the ‘Mermaid’ became fully submerged, within about 30 seconds, and sank,” they said.
Police identified the captain as 64-year-old C Yuriy from Odessa, Ukraine. His lawyers have previously claimed that he was devastated but did nothing wrong.
Viking Cruises has said it was co-operating with Hungarian investigators.
Prosecutors have asked the Pest Central District Court to convict the captain and sentence him to nine years in prison along with a nine-year ban on operating waterborne vessels, if he pleads guilty at a preliminary hearing and renounces a trial.
The captain has been released from detention but wears an electronic tracking device and is not allowed to leave his designated residence without permission.
‘Mermaid’ was raised from the river bed by crane on 11th June. Some of the victims’ bodies were recovered weeks after the incident more than 62 miles downstream, it was reported.