The Hungarian police have arrested the captain of a cruise ship involved in a fatal crash with a sightseeing boat in Budapest.

According to a reliable source, seven people died with another 21 feared dead after the tourist boat sank near the Hungarian Parliament on Wednesday.

Police said in a statement that the 64-year-old Ukrainian man is suspected of endangering water transport leading to a deadly mass accident.

The suspect was identified only as Yuriy C, from Odessa.

Thirty-three South Korean tourists were on board when the boat was hit by the larger vessel while moored in the Danube River during a rainstorm.

Police earlier said a criminal investigation had been launched into the accident.

CCTV video footage showed the two vessels travelling in the same direction, side-by-side, as they approached a bridge in central Budapest. It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.

Officials said the hull of the Mermaid, a 27-metre (89-ft) double-decker river cruise boat, had been found on the riverbed a few hundred metres from its usual mooring point.

A crane ship docked near the wreck on Thursday in preparation for recovery operations and divers prepared equipment.

Police said the rescue efforts were hampered by high water levels, strong currents and bad visibility.

“Those who were trapped in the hull or were stuck underneath can be lifted only once the wreckage is pulled out,” a police statement said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban offered his condolences to Seoul. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the authorities would work with the Hungarian government to investigate the cause of the accident.

“What’s most important is speed,” Moon said in Seoul.

Some South Korean relatives of those on board started to depart for Hungary.

Several family members were seen at Incheon International Airport in Seoul on Thursday night.

South Korean rescue teams and officials including South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also left for Budapest on Thursday.

She will hold a news conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto at 7.30am GMT on Friday.

The foreign ministry said 30 South Korean tourists, including at least one child, three South Korean tour guides and two Hungarian crew were on board when the accident occurred at around 9pm (7pm GMT).

Seven South Koreans were rescued, seven died, and 19 South Koreans were among the 21 missing, said Kang Hyung-shik, a foreign ministry official. The crew members were also missing.

The seven people rescued were suffering from hypothermia but stable, a Hungarian ambulance spokesman said. Police said the seven people who died had no life vests on.

Video footage from a security camera screened by police showed the bigger boat catching up from behind at a higher speed, clipping the Mermaid’s left side.

“The (Mermaid) for some reason, turns into the way of the Viking. And the Viking as it bumps into it, pushes it… and within seven seconds … (Mermaid) sinks,” Pal said, describing the video.

Rescue officials deployed boats, divers, floodlights and radar, scouring the river for several kilometres (miles) downstream from the site of the accident.

Well-wishers laid flowers outside the South Korean embassy in Budapest, and candles burned on the Danube bank.

The Mermaid’s owner said the boat – a Soviet model manufactured in 1949 and refurbished in the 1980s – had been in its fleet since 2003, with regular maintenance.

Source: Evening Standard