A man working in the Danube tourist boat industry said that because of the many vessels running simultaneously on the stream, such a catastrophe was predictable.
Too many boats after sunset
As we reported before, a Hungarian riverboat called Hableány (Mermaid) used for tourism capsised in Budapest on Wednesday evening (10 PM) with 34 people on board, including South Korean passengers and Hungarian crew. The boat was hit by another, much bigger tourist vessel. Latest photos are HERE while you can watch the videos on the collision below:
Of course, there are many questions as to how such a tragedy could happen, and it will take at least days until authorities can say anything regarding the issue. But a boatswain working on a riverboat told Index that
it was only a matter of time until such a tragedy was expected to happen.
András Kurbély said that he has been working on a boat for 27 years and now he is boatswain on the deck of a 135-metre-long floatel like the one collided with the Hableány. According to him, such ships are used for longer evening sightseeing tours organised mostly in Budapest because only there are enough places to see on both banks of the river.
Kurbély said that his company started to organise evening boat tours first in Budapest, but they were followed shortly by other companies. As a result, today, many small and large ships are running simultaneously on the Danube even after sunset. According to him, he and his colleagues
talked a lot about the dangers of this situation.
Authorities were warned
He added that staff working on smaller ships do not have enough routine, which almost resulted in tragedies even before. For example, smaller ships running behind larger ones are not easy to detect; sometimes, they are not even able to communicate, and therefore, they do not react properly if the larger ships do manoeuvres.
Furthermore, it sometimes happens that captains of
small boats cannot read the navigation signals properly,
which could have resulted in accidents even before.
In fact, Mr Kurbély spoke about one of his acquaintances who wrote a letter for the authorities before, asking evening boat trips to be banned because they are very dangerous. Of course, he supported his request with professional arguments, but nothing happened.
According to Kurbély, Hungarian authorities should have banned evening boat trips long before, so, they are responsible for the tragedy that happened on Wednesday.
In truth, to reduce possible risks,
the shipping authority of Budapest already took some measures before.
For example, it has forbidden large ships to turn during evening tours. Furthermore, there are boatswains working on large vessels to check the sides before doing any manoeuvres because there are so many different boats for which the radar is not enough.
Mr Kurbély said that this accident should not have happened because even though the current is fast, there are no waves on the Danube.
Regarding the collision, so far, the bodies of seven victims have been recovered, and authorities know about only seven survivors. The passengers of the Hableány were South Korean citizens; therefore, the Korean foreign minister is going to travel to Budapest. PM Viktor Orbán and President János Áder have already expressed their condolences because of the catastrophe.