Budapest, May 30 (AP/UNB) — Seven people were confirmed dead and 21 remained missing early Thursday after a sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean passengers and two crew members collided with another vessel and sank in the Danube River in downtown Budapest.
Rescue officials said seven bodies had been recovered. Pal Gyorfi, spokesman for the National Ambulance Service, said seven people were rescued and hospitalized in stable condition following the accident Wednesday night.
National police spokesman Kristof Gal said 33 South Koreans were on the boat, after early reports mentioned 32. South Korea's Foreign Ministry later confirmed that 33 of its citizens were on the boat and said 19 were still missing.
The two crew members were identified as Hungarian.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in instructed officials to employ "all available resources" to support the rescue efforts in Hungary.
Moon's spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said in Seoul that Moon also ordered the launch of a government task force led by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to deal with the accident and maintain close communication with the family members of the South Korean passengers.
The sunken boat was located early Thursday near the Margit Bridge, not far from the neo-Gothic Parliament building on the river bank.
Employees from the South Korean Embassy in Budapest were assisting Hungarian officials in identifying those rescued and the deceased.
Officials said searchers were checking the Danube for miles downriver from Budapest. The river was fast-flowing and rising as heavy rain continued in the city.
Earlier, the news website Index.hu said one of those rescued was found near the Petofi Bridge, which is about 3 kilometers (2 miles) south of Parliament.
Dozens of rescue personnel, including from the military and divers, were involved in the search.
The boat that sank was identified as the "Hableany" (Mermaid), which is described on the sightseeing company's website as "one of the smallest members of the fleet." It has two decks and a capacity for 60 people, or 45 for sightseeing cruises.
Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for the Panorama Deck boating company, said the "Hableany" was on a "routine city sightseeing trip" when the accident happened. He told state television that he had no information about any technical problems with the boat, which he said was serviced regularly.
London, May 27 (AP/UNB) — British Home Secretary Sajid Javid is joining the race to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Javid said in a video posted Monday on Twitter that his goal is to restore trust and create new opportunities.
He says "first and foremost, we must deliver Brexit,"noting the Conservative Party's poor results in the European Parliament election, which was announced Sunday.
Javid is the son of Pakistani immigrants and his father worked as a bus driver and shopkeeper. The 49-year-old joins a crowded field that already includes former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom.
The winner of the contest to be the next Conservative leader will then by default become Britain's prime minister. The race is expected to be decided by late July.
Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — A yellow vest protest march was taken over by black-hooded demonstrators and turned violent in Brussels, forcing authorities to detain a few hundred people.
The yellow vest demonstration was intended to be against social injustice on the day of European Parliament elections. But it degenerated into disorder, with some protesters pelting buildings and smashing barricades. Police intervened to disperse the violent demonstrators.
Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said around 350 people were briefly detained but were released later Sunday.
Police on horseback patrolled the historic center and scuffles broke out in different areas.
Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — The European Union’s traditional center splintered in the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades, with the far right and pro-environment Greens gaining ground on Sunday after four days of a polarized vote.
Turnout was at a two-decade high over the balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether. Both supporters of closer European unity and those who consider the EU a meddlesome and bureaucratic presence portrayed the vote as crucial for the future of the bloc.
In Britain , voters went for the extremes, with the strongest showing for Nigel Farage’s the newly formed Brexit party and a surge for the staunchly pro-European Liberal Democrats, versus a near wipeout for Conservatives. In France, an electorate that voted Emmanuel Macron into presidential office in 2017 did an about-face and the party of his defeated opponent, Marine Le Pen, drew into first place. In Germany , Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition saw a drastic loss in support to the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the far right. Italy’s League party, led by Matteo Salvini, claimed 32% of the vote in early projections, compared with around 6% five years ago.
“Not only is the League the first party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen is first in France, Nigel Farage is first in Great Britain. Therefore, Italy, France and England: the sign of a Europe that is changing, that is fed up,” Salvini said.
Despite gains, the vote was hardly the watershed anticipated by Europe’s far-right populists, who have vowed to dilute the European Union from within in favor of national sovereignty. Pro-EU parties still were expected to win about two-thirds of the 751-seat legislature that sits in Brussels and Strasbourg, according to the projections released by the parliament and based on the results rolling in overnight.
The continent-wide voting had major implications not just for the functioning of the bloc but also for the internal politics in many countries . Le Pen exulted that the expected result “confirms the new nationalist-globalist division” in France and beyond; Greece’s governing party called for snap elections after its loss; and Salvini was expected to capitalize on the outcome to boost his power at home.
“The monopoly of power is broken,” Margrethe Vestager, of the pro-EU ALDE grouping that includes Macron’s party. Vestager declared herself a candidate to lead the European commission for ALDE, which gained seats in large part because Macron’s party is itself a newcomer.
Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigrant National Rally party came out on top in France with 24% in an astonishing rebuke of Macron, who has made EU integration the heart of his presidency. His party drew just over 21%, according to government results.
Exit polls in Germany, the EU’s biggest country, likewise indicated Merkel’s party and its center-left coalition partner also suffered losses, while the Greens were set for big gains and the far right was expected to pick up slightly more support.
Turnout across the bloc was put at 50.5%, a 20-year high. An estimated 426 million people were eligible to vote.
The results will likely leave Parliament’s two main parties, the European People’s Party and the Socialists & Democrats, without a majority for the first time since 1979, opening the way for complicated talks to form a working coalition. The Greens and the ALDE free-market liberals were jockeying to become decisive in the body.
A subdued Esther de Lange, vice chair of the European People’s Party, conceded that the results indicate “fragmentation and a shrinking center.”
The Greens did well not just in Germany but in France and Ireland. “The Green wave has really spread all over Europe, and for us that is a fantastic result,” said Ska Keller, the group’s co-leader in the Parliament.
Germany’s Manfred Weber, the candidate of the EPP, the biggest party in Parliament, said that now it is “most necessary for the forces that believe in this Europe, that want to lead this Europe to a good future, that have ambitions for this Europe” to work together.
The EU and its Parliament set trade policy on the continent, regulate agriculture, oversee antitrust enforcement and set monetary policy for 19 of the 28 nations sharing the euro currency. Britain voted, even though it is planning to leave the EU. Its EU lawmakers will lose their jobs as soon as Brexit happens.
Europe has been roiled in the past few years by immigration from the Mideast and Africa and deadly attacks by Islamic extremists. It has also seen rising tensions over economic inequality and growing hostility toward the political establishment — sentiments not unlike those that got Donald Trump elected in the U.S.
Hungary’s increasingly authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orban, a possible ally of Italy’s Salvini, said he hopes the election will bring a shift toward political parties that want to stop migration. The migration issue “will reorganize the political spectrum in the European Union,” he said.
Proponents of stronger EU integration, led by Macron, argue that issues like climate change and immigration are too big for any one country to tackle alone. His lead candidate, Nathalie Loiseau, said she would continue the fight against nationalists in the European Parliament.
With the elections over, European leaders are jockeying over the top jobs in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels. The leaders meet for a summit over dinner Tuesday. Current European lawmakers’ terms end July 1, and the new parliament will be seated the following day.
Brussels, May 27 (AP/UNB) — European voters have turned out in record numbers to choose lawmakers to represent them at the European Parliament for the next five years.
More than 400 million voters in 28 nations had the right to vote over the past four days. Here’s a look at that massive exercise in democracy, a multi-national ballot by the European Union’s only democratically elected institution.
Who, when, what on the eu vote?
Europe’s voting marathon kicked off Thursday in Britain and the Netherlands. Voters in Ireland turned out on Friday, and those in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Malta and Slovakia on Saturday. On Sunday, people in the remaining 21 EU nations cast their ballots.
Voters in each EU nation chose some of the 751 lawmakers in the European Parliament, which sits in both Brussels and Strasbourg, France.
Seats in the European Parliament are doled out proportionally based on a nation’s population. Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta have the fewest seats with six each, while the EU’s most populous member, Germany, has 96 seats.
The results from every nation were being released late Sunday after the last polling station in the continent closed. Estimates suggested turnout could hit 51%, the highest in 20 years.
How important is the european parliament?
The assembly’s powers are slowly growing. It’s helped to improve air flight safety in Europe, cut down on plastics use, end mobile telephone roaming charges within the bloc, boost data privacy, set climate change ambitions and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars.
The parliament also has a say in treaties ranging from trade talks to Brexit.
The EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission, proposes laws, while EU lawmakers amend and negotiate their content with national governments, which are the real font of European power and are represented by the EU Council.
Often, the big impact of these EU elections is on the domestic politics of individual EU nations, like support in Britain for the anti-Europe U.K. Independence Party in 2014. In a repeat of her showing in 2014, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front party, now rebranded as the National Rally, appeared have scored big in France. The polls are often used by disgruntled citizens to cast protest votes against their own national governments.
What were the main issues?
There are no “European citizens” as such, so voters tend to respond to national interests.
How Europe handles migration was a very significant concern for voters in Italy, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. Economic concerns often influence voters, and Britain’s future in the EU appeared to have been a factor again.
An EU survey of public sentiment in April found that voters were most concerned about the economy, unemployment, immigration, the environment and climate change, terrorism and promoting human rights, democracy and social welfare.
Who’s likely to win what?
Early estimates Sunday suggested that the center-right European People’s Party will remain the biggest bloc in the European Parliament but lose perhaps more than 40 seats. Their traditional allies, the center-left Socialists and Democrats group, are also expected to lose around 40 seats. Together they are forecast to capture about 320 seats in the 751-seat house.
Among other mainstream parties, the liberal ALDE alliance is expected to capture just over 100 seats, well up from 68 in 2014, while the Greens could rank fourth with about 70 seats, up from 52. However, the liberals are set to create a new group with French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party.
As for the far-right and nationalists, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, which combines parties like Italy’s League, Britain’s UKIP and France’s far-right National Rally, was predicted to win perhaps 20 more seats than the 37 it held in the out-going assembly.
How will the vote change europe?
Europe’s mainstream political groups appear set to hold control over the assembly, but with fewer seats and they will be pressured into uncomfortable compromises or awkward alliances in order to pass EU legislation.
Populist and nationalist parties have found rising support in national elections in many EU countries, but their pan-European impact will depend on whether they can form a strong political group in Brussels. That certainly is their goal. Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, head of the League party, has been putting together a populist group of national parties that he says aims to fundamentally shake up EU politics.
Forming such a group is not easy — 25 lawmakers are required, with at least one-quarter of the EU’s 28 nations represented — but it’s important because it opens up valuable access to EU funds and political influence.
What happens after the elections?
Once the results are in, the newly elected EU lawmakers will begin haggling to form parliamentary groups, possibly as soon as Monday.
The present European Parliament’s term ends July 1 and the new parliament will take their seats in Strasbourg the following day. At the first plenary on July 2, they will elect the president, 14 vice presidents and five other senior officials in the House, as well as decide on the number and composition of parliamentary committees.
EU leaders will meet on Tuesday to choose candidates for the bloc’s top jobs. Between July and October, the assembly is called on to endorse those candidates, notably the new president of the European Commission. Parliamentary hearings will then begin to confirm EU commissioners in charge of specific policies.