Divers search for four more bodies after boat accident kills 13


Divers search for four more bodies after boat accident kills 13

The incident took place on Table Rock Lake in Missouri.

Rescue crews work at the scene of the accident (Andrew Jansen/The Springfield News-Leader/ AP)
Rescue crews work at the scene of the accident (Andrew Jansen/The Springfield News-Leader/ AP)

Divers are searching a Missouri lake for four people still missing after a duck boat packed with tourists capsized and sank in high winds, killing at least 13 people in the tourist town of Branson.

Authorities blamed stormy weather for the accident on Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake.

Winds at the time were blowing as hard as 65mph, according to the US National Weather Service.

Fourteen people survived, including seven who were injured when the boat went down, state police said. The four missing are presumed dead.

Duck boats, named for their ability to travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus, and 13 people died in 1999 when a boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Safety advocates have sought improvements and complained that too many agencies regulate the boats with varying safety requirements.

The boats were originally designed for the military, specifically to transport troops and supplies in the Second World War. They were later modified for use as sightseeing vehicles.

Passengers on a nearby boat described the chaos as the winds picked up and the water turned rough.

“Debris was flying everywhere,” Allison Lester said in an interview Friday with ABC’s Good Morning America.

Ms Lester’s boyfriend, Trent Behr, said they saw a woman in the water and helped to pull her into the boat. He said he was about to start CPR when emergency responders arrived and took over.

A spokeswoman for Cox Medical Centre in Branson said four adults and three children arrived at the hospital shortly after the accident. Two adults are in critical condition, and the others were treated for minor injuries.

Four people missing in the incident are presumed dead (AP)

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said an off-duty deputy working as security for the boat company helped rescue people after the boat turned over. Dive teams from several law enforcement agencies assisted in the effort.

Suzanne Smagala with Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks business in Branson, said the company was assisting authorities. She said this was the ride’s only accident in more than 40 years of operation.

In the hours after the accident, the lake was calm. But another round of thunderstorms passed within 10 miles of the area on Friday morning, and more storms were forecast for later in the day – some severe.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for Branson at 6.32pm local time on Thursday, before the boat tipped over.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will examined the scene.

US president Donald Trump tweeted his condolences, extending his sympathies to the families and friends of those involved.

Branson, about 200 miles south-east of Kansas City, is a popular vacation spot, offering entertainment ranging from theme parks to live music.

Press Association

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