BUDAPEST — A boat capsized and sank in the Danube River in Budapest just before midnight on Wednesday, leaving at least seven people dead and as many as 19 unaccounted for, officials said.
Under heavy rainfall, rescuers managed to bring 14 people to shore, the state news agency MTI reported. Speaking to reporters early Thursday, a representative for the National Ambulance Service said that seven people had died.
Including passengers and crew, there were three dozen or more people on board the boat, MTI reported.
According to the Foreign Ministry of South Korea, 33 South Koreans were on board the ship, on a tour of the Danube. Seven of them were rescued; seven were confirmed dead; and the rest, 19, remained missing. The ministry said it had established an emergency task force to learn more information from Hungary and to contact the victims’ families.
Very Good Tour, a company based in Seoul, South Korea, said that its customers, ranging from a 6-year-old girl to a 72-year-old man, were on the ship, along with a South Korean tour guide. They were on a six-country tour of Eastern Europe that included visits to Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, as well as a nighttime cruise on the Danube, the company said.
The tour company said the seven people who were rescued included a 60-year-old man and six women ranging in age from 31 to 66. It said the 33 South Koreans on board included 30 tourists, a tour guide who accompanied them from South Korea, and a local guide and a photographer, both South Koreans. It said it was helping relatives of those who were on the boat travel to Budapest.
South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, ordered his government Thursday to mobilize “all diplomatic resources” to help assist the search and rescue operations on the Danube. He also instructed the government to dispatch navy and coast guard divers from South Korea.
“Our government will have a thorough investigation of the cause of the accident in cooperation with the Hungarian government,” Mr. Moon said during a government meeting on Thursday, offering his “deep condolences” for the families of the victims.
Boat traffic on the Danube was halted in the area of the capsizing, the Budapest Police Department said in a statement, after the authorities were notified about 9:15 p.m. that a boat had overturned.
The boat was struck by another vessel in the Danube near the Hungarian Parliament, and then tipped over and capsized, MTI reported. Near the site, boats shone spotlights on the river, but after several days of rain, conditions were working against the search teams: The Danube was flowing fast and high, and winds hampered the search.
The teams were searching along the entire stretch of the Hungarian Danube south of Budapest, MTI said, and Interior Minister Sandor Pinter had arrived at the scene. The news website Index reported that one person was rescued near the Petofi Bridge, about two miles south of Parliament.
A diving instructor, Zsolt Szamari, told Hungarian state television that several factors were impeding the rescue, including the weather, water temperature and the fast current of the Danube.
The boat was identified by The Associated Press as the Hableany, or Mermaid. It was described on the website of its sightseeing company, The A.P. said, as “one of the smallest members of the fleet” and “an excellent venue for cruises and smaller family events.”
It has two decks and capacity for 60 people, or 45 for sightseeing cruises.