On Thursday in Budapest, Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér presented awards to experts, officials and civilians who exhibited extraordinary dedication during the rescuing of the passengers and crew of the 29 May Danube boat accident and in lifting the boat wreck to the surface.

Praising the awardees, the Minister emphasised: “We would like to recognise the devoted efforts of those involved in the search and rescue operations, the saving of lives, the voluntary assistance and the search for the deceased following the largest civil shipping accident in the history of Hungary”.

“22 days ago, the Viking Sigyn overwhelmed the Hableány (Mermaid) tourist boat within just 7-8 seconds and pushed it to the bed of the Danube”, he said, recalling the tragedy. “The people travelling on the boat had very little chance of survival”, he added.

“Following the emergency call after the accident, one thousand police officers, 274 police vehicles, helicopters, drones, staff from the Counter-Terrorism Centre, the Ministry of Defence, the National Directorate General for Disaster Management, and the National Directorate General for Water Management, lifeguards, members of the civil guard and voluntary helpers all took part in the search and rescue efforts”, the Interior Minister recalled.

He pointed out that 25 people lost their lives in the accident, three people are still being searched for, and the lives of only seven people were successfully saved. Accordingly, Mr. Pintér said one of the remaining tasks was the search for those still registered as missing within the framework of international cooperation.

Referring to the South Korean tourists involved, he declared that It is “painful for Hungary” that 33 of the victims were in the country as guests and tourists, and in the name of the Hungarian Government he expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Korean Government.

In his speech, Mr. Pintér highlighted that the awardees had worked with exemplary risk-taking, showing bravery and dedication under natural conditions that “would have scared others away”, and without showing any fatigue or fear.

The Minister expressed his thanks to the Korean Foreign Minister, Korea’s Embassy to Budapest, its military attaché, and to the Korean divers who had taken part in bringing the wreck and the bodies of the victims to the surface. “With their discipline and professional expertise, they contributed to the task being performed rapidly and successfully”, Mr. Pintér said in praise of them.

The Minister of Interior also thanked the Austrian, Czech, Norwegian and Slovakian experts involved in the search and rescue operation, the members of Hungarian scientific life and the civilians involved in the rescue work. “Hungarian society came together as one, as symbolised by the cable with which the damaged boat was successfully brought to the surface”, he declared.

Mr. Pintér stressed that the criminal proceedings launched as a result of the accident must be conducted fully and “every single detail” leading to the tragedy must be uncovered.

The Interior Minister presented Medals of Valour to six civilian divers and four official persons. Director General of the Counter-Terrorism Centre János Hajdu, several of the organisation’s leaders, several police officers and disaster management staff, as well as Captain of the Adam Clark floating crane Gyula Gyenei and seven civilians and an off-duty policeman who saved passengers from neighbouring boats immediately following the accident, were all awarded the Medal for Extraordinary Dedication.

At the event, a recording of the first emergency call to police at 21.15 immediately following the accident was played, as well as a video of the process by which the wreck was successfully brought to the surface. One minute’s standing silence was observed in memory of victims.

(Ministry of Interior/MTI)