- Ukrainian captain jailed amid tragic river tour boat crash on the Danube.
- This disaster marked the worst accident on the Danube in three decades.
- The Viking Sigyn cruise ship collided with the Mermaid tour boat.
The captain of a cruise ship that collided with a small tour boat on the River Danube in Budapest, resulting in the deaths of 28 people, has been sentenced to five years in prison.
The tragic incident occurred during a rainstorm in May 2019 when the Mermaid, carrying South Korean tourists, sank within moments of the collision.
Ukrainian captain Yuri Chaplinsky, in charge of the Vikyn Sigyn cruise ship, maintained his innocence but was found guilty of gross negligence. Chaplinsky is expected to appeal the verdict.
This disaster marked the worst accident on the Danube in three decades, Europe’s second-longest river.
Hungarian prosecutors argued in court in March 2020 that Chaplinsky had failed to pay adequate attention and did not properly steer the ship for several minutes during the rainstorm.
“He did not sense the Mermaid’s presence, did not radio or send out emergency sound signals,” stated Miklos Novaki during the court proceedings.
The Viking Sigyn cruise ship collided with the Mermaid tour boat shortly after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on May 29, as both vessels passed under Budapest’s Margaret Bridge.
Seven of the 35 people on board the Mermaid were rescued, and some bodies were swiftly recovered.
However, others were swept away in the fast-flowing river or trapped inside the sinking boat.
Twenty-five of the victims were South Korean nationals, including the Mermaid’s captain and one crew member. Only seven Korean passengers survived the tragic accident, and one Korean individual remains unaccounted for.
Chaplinsky, who has been in custody since 2019, expressed deep remorse for the fatal accident during his court appearance.
He stated, “I cannot escape the memories of this terrible tragedy for a minute, I cannot sleep, and I think this is what I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
However, the court acquitted the 68-year-old captain of the charge of failing to provide assistance.
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