Danube boat accident: Cruise ship captain goes on trial
A captain whose cruise ship collided with a small tour boat on the Danube, killing 28 people, has gone on trial in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
The small boat, carrying South Korean tourists, sank seven seconds after the collision during a rainstorm last May.
The Ukrainian captain of the Vikyn Sigyn cruise ship, named as Yuri Chaplinsky, denies wrongdoing.
He is charged with negligence leading to mass casualties and failing to help those in the water.
The disaster was the worst in over 50 years on the Danube, Europe's second-longest river.
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Hungarian prosecutors told the court on Wednesday that Mr Chaplinsky, 64, had failed to pay sufficient attention and had not properly focused on steering the ship for several minutes during the downpour.
Prosecutor Miklos Novaki said he had had several minutes to slow or steer his ship to avoid the collision, Reuters news agency reported.
"He did not sense the Mermaid's presence, did not radio or send out emergency sound signals," Mr Novaki told the court.
The Ukrainian rejected a proposed prosecution plea bargain of a nine-year prison sentence and a further nine-year ban on his boat licence.
He said he wanted a trial and did not comment further. Mr Chaplinsky worked on the river for more than 40 years, 30 of them as a boat captain.
He has already said he is devastated by what happened, but does not believe it was his fault.
In June, he was accused of deleting data from his phone following the crash. Prosecutors said it was unclear whether the deleted data was related to the incident.
How did the accident happen?
The Viking Sigyn cruise ship struck the Mermaid tour boat just after 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on 29 May as both vessels passed under Budapest's Margaret Bridge.
Seven of the 35 people on board were rescued and several bodies quickly recovered, but others were swept away in the swollen river or trapped inside the boat.
Police said the boat sank within seconds of the collision.
"The current was so fast and people were floating away," one survivor, identified only by her surname Jung, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
One of the 28 people who died remains missing. Twenty-six of those killed in the disaster were South Korean.
The Viking Sigyn's owner, Viking Cruises, said it was co-operating with Hungarian investigators.