Hungary detains captain of cruise ship involved in Danube collision

By Thomson Reuters May 20, 2024 | 6:42 AM

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary has detained the captain of a Swiss-based cruise ship involved in a collision with a small motor boat on the Danube River late on Saturday that killed two people, with five others still missing, police said on Monday.

The accident was reported on Saturday night after a 35-year-old man was found with a bleeding head wound near a main road by the river near Veroce, 55 km (34 miles) north of the capital Budapest.

The body of a man was recovered downstream south of Veroce, while a woman’s body was found further downstream near a bridge on the northern outskirts of Budapest, where police also recovered the damaged motor boat.

Hungarian police said the cruise ship captain was a Czech national and that they had interviewed and detained him on suspicion of multiple offences, including failing to stop and provide help after an accident.

“Based on the suspicion of police, the captain did not alert his crew after the accident, did not follow provisions of the rescue protocol and took no action whatsoever to save the persons afflicted,” police said in a statement.

Police have questioned 25 people as witnesses, including the cruise ship’s crew, tourists on board and others.

A search continued on Monday for the five missing people, all of whom were in the motor boat, including an 18-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man.

On Sunday, a Reuters news team saw the cruise ship Heidelberg moored in the northern Danube river town of Komarom, upstream from the site of the collision, with large scratches visible on the bow.

A group of Chinese tourists disembarked on Sunday afternoon. One of them told Reuters he had not been aware of any accident at the time.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Mark Heinrich)