A river cruise ship, the Viking Sigyn, operated by Viking River Cruises, collided with a Hungarian sightseeing boat, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), operated by the Panorama Boat company, on the Danube River last night with thirty-three tourists and two Hungarian tour guides aboard. Seven people were reportedly rescued. Seven people are dead and twenty-one are reportedly missing. (This is the second collision involving a Viking river cruise ship in the last two months).
A Hungarian police officer involved in the initial investigation explains that “Both ships were heading north … and when they arrived between two pillars of the Margit Bridge, for some reason the Hableany turned in front of the Viking ship. As the Viking comes into contact with it, it overturns it and in about seven seconds, as it turned on its side, it sank.”
The Viking Sigyn apparently ran over the smaller boat. Video footage shows the two vessels in the Danube River in central Budapest, shortly before the collision. The larger Viking ship then is seen running over the stern of smaller boat as they approach the Margit Bridge (shown below via ATV Magyarország). The smaller vessel apparently pulled in front of the Viking Sigyn.
There were no reports of injury on the Viking river ship (called a “longship” by Viking).
Danger with River Cruising
We have written about relatively few mishaps involving river cruises in Europe over the years but they happen, particularly recently.
In September 2016, another Viking River Cruises ship, the Viking Freya struck a rail bridge, crushing the wheelhouse and killing two Hungarian officers who were navigating the river ship. The ship was on its way to Budapest at the time of the deadly accident. (125 people left comments to our article with many former Viking customers defending the inexcusable accident).
More recently, in September of 2016, the M/S Swiss Crystal river cruise ship collided with a highway bridge on the Rhine river near Duisburg, Germany, injuring 30 passengers.
On March 21, 2019, the Scylla Edelweiss experienced an electrical fire and collided with a cargo ship, the Forenso, on the Waal River in the Netherlands.
On April 1, 2019, a collision occurred between the river cruise ship, the Viking Idun, and a tanker, the Chemical Marketer, while the ships were sailing from Antwerp to Ghent. Four passengers were reportedly injured.
Last week, on May 21, 2019, an unidentified river cruise ship (some people believe is a Viking longship) with 183 passengers aboard, forgot to lower its wheelhouse and struck a bridge in an incident similar to the Viking Freya mishap. Fortunately, no one was killed.
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Update: 28 people, including 21 South Korean tourists, are reported dead or missing from the Hableany.
The Christian Science Monitor writes Sinking of South Korean Tourist Boat Raises Safety Concerns.
According to gCaptain: The Hungarian police “said a criminal investigation was under way to determine the cause of the accident. Police declined to say if the bigger vessel, the 135-meter (443 ft) Viking Sigyn, put out any signals for help. Police said its investigation yielded evidence that raised personal responsibility, so it questioned the Viking Sigyn captain, a 64-year-old Ukrainian, as a suspect, and later moved to take him into custody for reckless misconduct in waterborne traffic leading to mass casualties.”
The Daily Mail has a full range of photographs regarding the tragedy.
June 6, 2019 Update: The captain of the Viking river ship was also the master of the Viking Idun when it collided with a tanker in the Netherland two months ago, according to Hungarian prosecutors. He has been identified by police as “C. Yuriy” from Odessa. Ukraine.