There had been warnings about the traffic on the river Danube around Hungary’s capital and how it could possibly be dangerous; however, the government chose not to take it into account and did nothing to reduce the number of boats.
The Hungarian tourism agency has told a journalist from The New York Times that “there are several indications that human error was responsible.” However, the famous news outlet suggests that there could have been more that played into the tragedy.
On the evening of May 29, two ships collided on the Danube in Budapest. The accident was very much fatal, killing several South Korean tourists on the smaller boat that sank, called Hableány.
Read the first news about the accident HERE.
The tragedy has raised many concerns, mainly about the safety policies, as it seems that making as much profit as possible has outweighed the importance of providing a safe service. Fidesz controls both the city and the national government, which are in charge of granting access to the docks and giving permits to vessels, respectively. This means that either/or could have prevented the collision from happening by installing stricter regulations.
The previous mayor of the capital stated: “city officials were warned about the dangers of too much traffic, but they failed to act. It is a very profitable business.”
The captain of the other ship, the Viking Sigyn, was involved in another accident in April, which took place in the Netherlands. He was arrested on suspicion of negligence, as two accidents within just a two-month time frame are very unsettling, and raise the question: how was he allowed control of one of the biggest boats of the company?
Hableány, the sunken ship, was lifted out of the river by crane on Tuesday, after many complications due to water levels. Some of the victims have still not been found, although many have been recovered from the wreck and the river. Only seven people who were on the boat that night survived out of 35.
There are at least two known reports issued to city officials warning about too much traffic on the water and its risks. Another important problem to be mentioned is the lack of communication between vessels, as miscommunication — or no communication at all — can be a huge threat. The increase in the number of hotel boats has also raised the tensions on the Danube, and a study stated that “cooperation was needed between professional and tourism-related vessels.”
There is huge competition between sightseeing boats, such as Hableány, and hotel ships, like the Viking Sigyn. Not to mention barges used for industrial transportation, floating restaurants and other forms of entertainment. According to the Hungarian tourism agency, measures were taken when the traffic on the Budapest stretch of the river increased.
PM Orbán and his party have control of nearly the whole state, including a huge influence on tourism. The Prime Minister’s daughter works for the Hungarian tourism agency. The current mayor of Budapest was also backed by Orbán and the government during the elections, and so, according to the previous mayor, he does not have much freedom or control over the city.
Miklós Ligeti, legal director of Transparency International, says that personal interests and business considerations should be investigated, and if they did overrule warnings and expert opinions, “there is a serious indication of gross negligence which should be prosecuted.”
Head of the Hungarian Federation of Passenger Fleet Operators Zsolt Varga said: “Those two boats could have been the only boats on the Danube at that time, and this still could have happened,” he does not believe that way too much traffic played a part in the accident.
Read all news and articles and keep up-to-date about the fatal accident HERE.