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Fatal Collision between Speedboat and Hotel Boat on the Danube

MTI-Hungary Today 2024.05.21.

A tragic incident unfolded on the Danube (close to the Slovak border) involving a collision between a small boat and a hotel boat, resulting in two fatalities and leaving five individuals missing.

The collision occurred on the night of Saturday, May 19. The Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK) swiftly responded to the scene, initiating criminal proceedings against an unknown perpetrator on suspicion of endangering water transport and causing the death of several people.

The sequence of events began with a distress call reporting a man with a bleeding head found near the town of Verőce, believed to be related to a boat accident. Upon investigation, the bodies of a man and a woman were discovered, and a small damaged boat was towed ashore.

Simultaneously, police intercepted a hotel boat with a damaged side near Komárom, possibly linked to the collision.

The BRFK’s prompt actions underscored the severity of the situation and the urgency of the search and rescue efforts.

Investigation of the hotel boat Heidelberg at Komárom. Photo: MTI / Krizsán Csaba

Efforts to locate the missing individuals have been comprehensive and have involved multiple organizations. The BRFK Danube Water Police and the National Directorate General for Disaster Management mobilized 95 personnel, 25 boats, and drones to scour the river. Additionally, a helicopter from the Rapid Response and Special Police Service (Készenléti Rendőrség), and support from the Pest County Search and Rescue Service and various volunteer organizations have bolstered the search operations. Land-based units are meticulously combing the shore areas, demonstrating a concerted effort to cover all possible locations where the missing individuals could be found.

Coordination of the search efforts is being overseen by an operational team from the BRFK Danube Water Police Headquarters at the Kopaszi dam (Budapest).

Authorities have also appealed to the public, urging anyone traveling on or near the Danube to report any relevant observations or information immediately.

Wreckage of the speedboat involved in the tragedy. Photo: MTI / Lakatos Péter

Meanwhile, the hotel boat involved in the collision, identified as the Heidelberg, underwent inspection at Komárom. The vessel, constructed in 2004, boasts impressive specifications, including two 1,107 horsepower engine units, a length of 110 meters, accommodations for 110 guests, and a crew of 35 personnel. However, the collision inflicted serious damage to its bow, indicative of the force and impact of the accident.

In parallel with the search and rescue operations, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident.

Criminal proceedings have been initiated, with the captain of the hotel boat facing prosecution. Suspected charges include failure to render assistance causing death, and failure to comply with rescue protocols. The captain’s custodial interrogation aims to glean insights into the events leading up to and following the collision. Additionally, witness testimonies, including those from passengers and crew members, contribute to piecing together the sequence of events and determining accountability.

A search and rescue boat on the Danube near Budapest. Photo: MTI / Lakatos Péter

In a related development, Zoltán Tóth, spokesman for the National Association of Hungarian Shipping (MAHOSZ), provided insights into the type of speedboat involved in the collision. The vessel’s capabilities, including its high-speed potential and engine specifications, suggest that it was capable of swift maneuvers.

The extent of the wreckage further indicates that the collision occurred at high speed, highlighting the severity of the impact.

Mr. Tóth also commented on the rarity of boat accidents on the Hungarian stretch of the Danube, attributing them to factors such as non-compliance with navigation rules and inadequate awareness, particularly during night traffic. Despite the infrequency of such incidents, the increasing number of recreational boats and lapses in adherence to safety regulations pose heightened risks.

The tragic collision serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety measures and adhering to regulations to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Hableány Disaster: Captain on Trial for Failing to Render Assistance
Hableány Disaster: Captain on Trial for Failing to Render Assistance

The other captain was sentenced in September to five and a half years.Continue reading

Via MTI; Featured Image: MTI / Lakatos Péter

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