Update: 17 people are now confirmed dead
Branson, MO – At least 11 people died, several are still missing and seven have been admitted to hospital after an amphibious boat sank in bad weather near Branson, MO.
Two of those in hospital were reported to be in critical condition as recovery efforts continued overnight.
Authorities think wind gusts of up to 65 mph and thunderstorms caused the duck boat to flip and sink to the bottom of Table Rock Lake.
According to the sheriff’s office the boat was carrying 31 people at the time. Others stated the number of passengers totalled 21.
The accident was announced on Twitter by Stone County Fire Department.
“Crews from multiple agencies are on scene of an MCI “Mass Casualty Incident” “tourist type boat involved” this is on Table Rock Lake, Stone County, Branson Missouri. Taney County assisting. Several patients transported…” A fire department public information officer Tweeted.
A sheriff’s deputy who was in the area assisted in rescuing some people. As darkness approached divers were searching for more victims.
Firetrucks, ambulances and police were at the scene as a frantic search continued.
Ripley’s of the “believe it or not” fame announced in December 2017 that it had acquired Ride the Ducks business adding it to a large entertainment empire spread out in 11 countries.
“Ride the Ducks is a 70-minute guided amphibious tour that takes guests through the scenic Ozarks on both land and water. Ride the Ducks is a seasonal business that runs from March – November and operates 22 Duck vehicles,” the company said at the time. It could not be determined if ownership has subsequently changed.
The accident, caused by gusting winds of up to 65 m.p.h. Is thought to have flipped the duck boat at around 7 p.m. It then sank to the bottom with some passengers escaping and swimming to the shore. There were several other boats nearby to help with body retrieval and rescue operations.
Wikipedia says: “The duck boats operated by Ride the Ducks have been involved in a number of incidents. In July 2010 one of the amphibious vehicles stalled on the Delaware River in Philadelphia in and was struck by a barge sinking the duck boat and killing two of the passengers. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the tugboat operator’s inattention to his duties.”
“On May 8, 2015, a Ride the Ducks boat struck and killed a woman crossing the street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Chinatown section. Witnesses at the scene say that the woman crossed against a red light while viewing content on a tablet and was struck while in the boat’s front blind spot. The incident is still being investigated.”
Story will be updated at next news conference scheduled for 8 a.m.