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United States

Death toll rises to 17 after duck boat capsizes in Missouri lake amid stormy weather – killing nine from the same family

Nine people from a single family were among the dead, with the victims aged between 1 and 70 years old

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:32am

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead after a duck boat carrying tourists on a Missouri lake capsized in stormy weather and sank Thursday night, including nine people from a single family. All missing people appeared to have been accounted for.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader confirmed the total number of fatalities just after 10:15am local time Friday. A spokesman with the Missouri Highway Patrol said the age range of those who died was from 1 to 70 years old.

Speaking at a news conference Friday morning, Rader said the first emergency call for the boat was at 7.09pm. It sank in 80 feet of water and was upright when found by divers. The boat has not yet been removed from water.

According to the Missouri governor’s office, nine of the 17 dead in the accident are from one family; two members of that family survived. Rader said the boat’s captain survived but the driver did not. Seven people were taken to hospitals, two with critical injuries.

There reportedly were 31 people on the “Ride the Ducks” boat, a vehicle that goes from land to water and is a popular attraction for tourists at Table Rock Lake. Some people were able to swim to shore, according to media reports.

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Steve Lindenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Springfield, Missouri, said the agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Branson area Thursday evening. Lindenberg said winds reached speeds of about 100 kilometres an hour.

“It’s a warning telling people to take shelter,” he said.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, said this was the Branson tour’s first accident in more than 40 years of operation.

Branson is about 32km southeast of Kansas City and is a popular vacation spot for families and other tourists looking for entertainment ranging from theme parks to live music.

Duck boats, known for their ability to travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. They include one in 2015 in Seattle in which five college students were killed when a boat collided with a bus, and one in 1999 that left 13 people dead after the boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Safety advocates have sought improvements to the boats since the Arkansas incident. Critics argued that part of the problem is numerous agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

Duck boats were originally used by the US military in the second world war to transport troops and supplies, and later were modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.