BUDAPEST: The captain of a cruise liner was released on bail on Wednesday, two weeks after his vessel was involved in a collision with a tourist boat that sank on the River Danube in Budapest with a party of South Koreans on board.
Twenty-six Koreans and two Hungarian crew died after the Mermaid tourist boat capsized and sank in seconds – the worst disaster on the river in half a century.
Prosecutors said the Ukrainian captain of the larger Viking Sigyn cruiser – identified by police as 64-year-old C. Yuriy from Odessa – had been held on suspicion of criminal misconduct.
The captain’s legal team has said he is devastated by what happened, but denies any wrongdoing.
South Korea’s government had formally asked for the captain to be kept in detention as it sent divers and officials to help the Hungarian investigation.
But the captain’s lawyer, Gabor Toth, said Budapest’s appellate court had confirmed an earlier ruling to release the captain on a 15 million forint (US$53,000) bail.
Four more bodies – including those of the Mermaid’s captain and a six-year-old girl – were found as salvage crews slowly lifted the wreck from the riverbed on Tuesday.
Four more people are still missing, presumed dead.
The cruise liner’s owner, Swiss-based Viking Cruises Ltd, has said it is cooperating with Hungarian investigators.