Two Deaths Reported After Cruise Ship Collision, Others Missing

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A collision between a river cruise boat and a smaller motorboat on the River Danube in Hungary over the weekend has caused two deaths and five other people are missing. The search for the missing individuals is ongoing and involves multiple assets, while the cruise ship is continuing on its journey.

Approximately 95 personnel, including 25 vessels, two rescue divers, and multiple drones, are involved in the search for as many as five people believed missing. Search efforts are covering the stretch of the river downstream from the accident site to the Hungarian border, as there is no telling how far debris or individuals may have traveled with the river’s current. Three men and two women remain missing.

At this time, however, the ship’s captain has been detained as the incident is being investigated. It is suspected that his reaction to the collision may not have followed proper safety response protocols, which could have led to the loss of life.

MS Heidelberg Cruise Ship
MS Heidelberg Cruise Ship

The river cruise boat is Heidelberg, operating for Nicko Cruises in their river division. The 358-foot-long ship sails along the Danube and Rhine Rivers, with a capacity for up to 100 guests.

According to local news reports, the accident was first noted when a 35-year-old man with a head wound was found by police roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Budapest, Hungary on Saturday, May 18, near the town of Veroce.

An immediate search found the bodies of a man and woman nearby, and evidence of a possible boat collision on the Danube. The wreckage of the small motorboat was found Sunday morning.

That particular area of the Danube is popular for water recreation, particularly on weekends.

At the time, no river cruise boat was noted in the immediate vicinity. Authorities did find Heidelberg docked at Komaron, however, with damage to the hull, including extensive scratches. Heidelberg was located 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the suspected area of the accident, indicating the vessel failed to stop after the collision – if indeed it was involved in the accident.

No passengers on Heidelberg were injured in the incident, and in fact, many travelers appeared unaware of any collision at all.

Local authorities have initiated criminal proceedings for the incident, including charges of endangering water transportation and causing several deaths. Heidelberg‘s captain, a Czech national, has been detained, following interviews with the ship’s crew as well as tourists onboard.

As the search is currently ongoing, final charges have not yet been determined. The investigation is sure to include examination of Heidelberg, determination of exactly where the collision occurred, and review of any possible video footage that may have shown circumstances leading to the accident.

It will also need to be determined if the motorboat had proper safety equipment, and whether or not alcohol or reckless behavior may have been a factor in the incident.

River Cruising with Nicko Cruises

Nicko Cruises operates a fleet of river ships sailing in along various poplar and scenic waterways, including not only the Danube but also the Rhine, Seine, Elbe, Oder, Mekong, and Nile rivers, among others.

River cruise ships are significantly different than ocean vessels, with shallower drafts and narrower construction to safely navigate sometimes confined waterways. These ships are much smaller than traditional cruise ships, but often still feature amenities such as balconies, fitness centers, observation areas, and sun decks.

On a river cruise, local scenery and culture is the highlight of the voyage, with ships stopping at both larger cities as well as small, quaint communities along the watercourse. Because rivers can be heavily trafficked by fishing boats, pleasure craft, and local ferries, navigation and safety can be quite a challenge.

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