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17 dead -- including 9 from one family -- after 'duck boat' sinks

By
Ray Downs, Susan McFarland and Danielle Haynes
Search and rescue crews search Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., Friday after an amphibious duck boat sank there in rough waters. More than a dozen people drowned, authorities said. Photo by Southern Stone County Fire Protection District/EPA-EFE
Search and rescue crews search Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., Friday after an amphibious "duck boat" sank there in rough waters. More than a dozen people drowned, authorities said. Photo by Southern Stone County Fire Protection District/EPA-EFE

July 20 (UPI) -- Seventeen people -- including nine people from a single family -- drowned after a tourist "duck boat" sank in southeast Missouri, authorities said Friday.

Stone County, Mo., Sheriff Doug Rader said the "Ride the Ducks" boat carrying 31 people sank in Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Mo., on Thursday. The "duck boats" are amphibious vehicles that take tourists through Missouri's Ozarks.

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Authorities said the dead include children as young as 1 year old, and elderly tourists.

At least seven people were hospitalized, one critically.

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The cause of the sinking is under investigation, but officials believe weather played a role. It occurred amid thunderstorms, wind speeds up to 63 mph and rough waters. One witness' video shows two other boats struggling to get through the choppy waters.

Rader said there were life vests on board the vessel but it's unclear if the passengers had them on.

"This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking," the company said in a statement on its website. "We will continue to do all we can to assist the families who were involved and the authorities as they continue with the search and rescue."

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"Ride the Ducks will be closed for business while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community," it added.

"My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri," President Donald Trump said Friday. "Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!"

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