Cruise ship captain goes on trial over Budapest crash

12 March 2020 (Last Updated March 12th, 2020 12:14)

The captain of a cruise ship that was involved in a horrific collision with a small tour boat on the Danube River last May has gone on trial in Hungary.

Cruise ship captain goes on trial over Budapest crash
The cruise ship had struck the tour boat under Budapest’s Margaret Bridge. Credit: Austin Neill / Unsplash.

The captain of a cruise ship that was involved in a collision with a small tour boat on the Danube River last May has gone on trial in Hungary.

The Viking Sigyn cruise ship had struck the Mermaid tour boat under Budapest’s Margaret Bridge during torrential rain on 29 May.

Two Hungarian crew members and 25 South Korean tourists died during the collision after the Mermaid sank within seconds of the accident.

The Ukrainian captain of the Vikyn Sigyn cruise ship, identified during the court session as Yuriy Chaplinsky, has been charged by Hungarian prosecutors with negligence leading to mass casualties.

Chaplinsky has also been charged for failing to offer assistance to those on board the Mermaid.

The Ukrainian denied responsibility for the collision and rejected the prosecution’s offer of a nine-year prison term and a nine-year ban on operating ships if he accepted the charges and resigned his rights to a trial.

He said he wanted a trial and did not comment any further.

The disaster is said to be the worst accident in more than half a century on the Danube River.

Prosecutor Miklos Novaki told the court that 64-year-old Chaplinsky had failed to pay adequate attention and properly focus on steering the ship for several minutes during the downpour.

Novaki said: “For at least five minutes, the defendant failed to focus on steering the ship, including locating other possible vessels under the bridge.

“He did not sense the Mermaid’s presence, did not radio or send out emergency sound signals.”

Chaplinsky had worked on the Danube river for over 40 years.