Saturday 18 January 2020

Nine members of same family drown in 'duck boat' tragedy

Emergency workers patrol the area near where the duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake, Missouri. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP
Emergency workers patrol the area near where the duck boat capsized on Table Rock Lake, Missouri. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP

Rozina Sabur

Nine of the 17 people who drowned when an amphibious "duck boat" carrying 31 people capsized in stormy weather in Missouri were from the same family.

Another two members of that family survived, a spokeswoman for Missouri Governor Mike Parson said.

Divers discovered four more bodies yesterday following the incident on the "Ride the Ducks" amphibious vehicle on Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Missouri.

Officials said all bodies have now been recovered from the accident. The victims ranged from one to 70 years old, according to Missouri Highway Patrol.

The vessel sank in 40ft of water before rolling to a final depth of 80ft, posing a challenge for divers attempting to recover the victims who remained in the vehicle when it sank.

Fourteen people survived, including seven who were injured when the boat went down, and were taken to hospital.

Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 7pm after thunderstorms rolled through the area, the fire district said on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Centre Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident.

Two adults were in critical condition and the others were treated for minor injuries, Brandei Clifton said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 100kmh was measured around 7pm Thursday at Branson Airport. The winds were likely stronger over the lake, Mr Linderberg said.

"There's nothing to slow down winds in an open area," he said.

Multiple dive teams from a number of law enforcement agencies were assisting in the rescue and recovery effort.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said the divers ended their "challenging" search on Thursday night before resuming their efforts yesterday morning. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board made their way to the scene yesterday to establish how the accident occurred.

Suzanne Smagala, with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, said the company was assisting authorities with the rescue effort. Ms Smagala added this was the Branson tour's first accident in more than 40 years of operation.

Irish Independent

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