Cruise ship captain gets prison sentence for deadly collision with tour boat on Danube River

Cruise ship captain gets prison sentence for deadly collision with tour boat on Danube River

Viking Sigyn underway in the Rhine River in Leverkusen, Germany, July 14, 2022 (Photo: Schneider)

A court in Hungary has sentenced a cruise ship captain to five and a half years in prison for his role in a collision with a tour boat that left 27 people dead in the Danube River in Budapest four years prior.

On Tuesday, September 26, 68-year-old Ukrainian national Yuri Chaplinsky, captain of the Viking Cruises river cruise ship Viking Sigyn, was found guilty of negligence leading to mass casualties after his vessel struck and severely damaged the tour boat Hableány on the night (local time) of May 29, 2019.

The incident resulted in the deaths of 25 South Korean tourists and both crewmembers on Hableány while no trace has yet been found of a female South Korean passenger who was also on the tour boat when it sank.

Only seven of Hableány‘s passengers survived the tragedy, having suffered only minor injuries associated with hypothermia.

Prosecutors claim Chaplinsky had not been paying attention and was therefore not properly focused on navigating his vessel in the minutes prior to the crash.

One of the prosecutors said the defendant had had enough time to see the smaller tour boat and manoeuvre to avoid a collision but had not done so.

Following his indictment in November 2019, Chaplinsky was offered a comparatively lighter sentence of a nine-year suspension of his boat operator’s licence on top of a nine-year prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. However, he rejected this proposal and instead requested a trial.

The captain told the court on Tuesday that he was “deeply sorry” for the incident.

Chaplinsky was meanwhile acquitted of the separate charges of 35 counts failing to give assistance.

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