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2 dead, 5 missing after a boat collision on the Danube River in Hungary

Damage is seen on the front of the cruise ship which was involved in a Danube River accident earlier in Budapest Hungary, Sunday, May 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky) Damage is seen on the front of the cruise ship which was involved in a Danube River accident earlier in Budapest Hungary, Sunday, May 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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BUDAPEST, Hungary -

Police say two people have died and five are missing following a boat collision on the Danube River in Hungary.

Hungarian police received a report late Saturday night that a man had been found with a head injury on the shore of the Danube near the town of Veroce, around 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of the capital, Budapest. The bodies of a man and a woman were later discovered nearby.

Hours after police began their search, they discovered a damaged boat in the water, which they towed to shore. They are still searching for five adults -- three men and two women -- who they believe were on the boat.

Police said they determined that a river cruise boat had been in the area at the time of the accident. They stopped a cruise boat with a damaged hull near the town of Komarom, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) further upriver.

Hungarian public television station M1 reported that the cruise boat, Heidelberg, is a 109-metre (357-foot) Swiss craft that can accommodate 110 people. No passengers on that boat sustained injuries, M1 said.

The Danube at Veroce is roughly 1,500 feet (460 metres) wide and is in the center of an area called the Danube Bend where the river makes a sweeping, nearly 90-degree turn to the south. The area is a popular recreational and boating destination and is on a route often used by cruise boats between Budapest and the Austrian capital, Vienna, some 140 miles (230 kilometres) upriver.

The deadly accident comes five years after at least 27 people were killed in Budapest when a river cruise boat collided with a smaller tourist vessel, sinking it in seconds.

The tourist boat Hableany, carrying 35 people who were mostly South Korean tourists, was overtaken from behind by the much larger cruise boat, Viking Sigyn, beneath Budapest's Margit Bridge, in May 2019.

The Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn was last year found guilty of negligence leading to a fatal mass catastrophe and sentenced to five years and six months in prison. He has appealed the decision.

Police on Sunday said they have initiated criminal proceedings against an unknown perpetrator on suspicion of endangering water transport and causing the death of several people.

A spokesperson for the Directorate General for Disaster Management told Hungarian news agency MTI that a group of nearly 90 people from several regional disaster management agencies were conducting the search for the missing from the land, water and sky.

Twelve boats and three drones are involved in the search, and two rescue divers are also involved, Imre Doka said.

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