Missouri duck boat capsizes killing 17 people

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Media caption,
Video shows the tourist boat before it capsized on a lake in Missouri

Seventeen people have died after an amphibious "duck boat" carrying tourists sank in stormy weather in the US state of Missouri, police said.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said all bodies have now been recovered from Thursday's accident.

The vessel was carrying 31 people when it overturned on Table Rock Lake, a popular tourist attraction near the town of Branson.

The captain of the amphibious boat survived, but the driver did not.

Emergency crews responded to the incident shortly after 19:00 (00:00 GMT) on Thursday.

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Missouri Highway Patrol said the ages of the deceased range from one to 70, US media reported.

Image source, CBS
Image caption,
Missouri governor Mike Parson (left) and Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader speaking with reporters on Friday

Sheriff Rader could not say whether passengers were wearing life vests at the time of the capsizing, or if the boat's windows were open.

The vessel sank in 40ft (12m) of water before rolling to a final depth of 80ft.

Sheriff Rader said divers have located the sunken boat and will probably recover it later today.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Rescue personnel continue to search Table Rock Lake for victims of the duck boat accident.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson said at the news conference, "now is just a time for thoughts and prayers".

US President Donald Trump offered his "deepest sympathies" in a Friday morning tweet.

A spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center in Branson, Brandei Clifton, said that four adults and three children had arrived at the hospital shortly after the incident.

It happened as a line of powerful thunderstorms rolled through the American Midwest, uprooting trees and felling power lines.

At the time of the accident, winds reached around 65mph (104 km/h), according to the National Weather Service.

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Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Footage posted on social media shows a duck boat battling severe weather on Table Rock Lake

Video footage shot by a witness on shore showed two duck boats struggling through choppy waters and spray.

One of the boats made it to shore but the other was driven back by the wind and eventually overwhelmed.

Sheriff Rader said one of his deputies was working as security on the nearby Branson Belle boat and had helped to rescue some of the passengers. Other employees of the Belle also jumped in to help, he said.

The police chief told reporters: "There was actually two ducks [boats]. The first one made it out. The second one didn't."

The Ride the Ducks boat company is a part of Ripley Entertainment, whose president, Jim Pattison, told CBS This Morning the boat "shouldn't have been in the water" in the storm.

"I don't have all the details, but to answer your question, no, it shouldn't have been in the water if, if what happened, happened," Mr Pattison said.

Authorities from the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.

Missouri law requires all children to wear life jackets on boats and all recreational watercraft users "to wear life jackets anytime they are underway".

Are duck boats dangerous?

There are hundreds of so-called duck boats in use around the world. The amphibious vehicles are popular with tourists and have been providing tours for decades.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Five people were killed and several critically injured when a bus collided with a tour vehicle in Seattle

Thirteen people were killed, including three children, after they became trapped beneath the vehicle's canopy.

The cause was later reported to be "uncontrolled flooding" due to a loose part.

What is a duck boat?

The sightseeing vehicles are based on a design used during World War Two to transport personnel and supplies over land and water - known as the DUKW.

The DUKW, a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck, was first made in the US in the mid-1940s to deliver people and materials ashore where no port facilities existed.

Some 21,000 DUKWs were produced for use during World War Two. Many served on D-Day and in the Normandy landings.

Image caption,
DUKW vehicles belonging to the UK's Royal Navy on parade in London in 1946