Duck boat driver told passengers they ‘won’t need’ life jackets

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At least 13 people are dead and four people are missing after an amphibious tourist boat carrying 31 passengers capsized and sank Thursday during a severe squall in a lake in southern Missouri.

Tia Coleman told WXIN-TV in Indianapolis that she and a nephew were among 11 relatives on a duck boat Thursday night on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri.

A microburst is a severe, localised wind gust, blasting down from a thunderstorm, typically covering an area less than 4km in diameter and lasting less than five minutes.

Jeffrey Goodman, who has represented people injured in past duck boat accidents, said the vessels should be banned. Several fatal accidents have occurred since they were repurposed as tourist vehicles, including one in 2015 in which five students were killed when one collided with a bus in Seattle.

The 17 victims were aged between 1 and 70 and came from six U.S. states, authorities said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was to send a team early Friday to investigate the incident, the agency said. The accident happened amid churning waters and stormy weather. Life jackets were available inside the boat, but authorities can't say whether passengers were wearing them.

"Hearing this happen is just devastating", said Koehler.

"We will do an analysis of the facts and approximately one year later - one year from now - we should have a probable cause and a report for the general public", Earl Weener of the NTSB said Friday night. The driver of the boat also perished in the incident.

Named for their ability to travel on land and in water, duck boats have been involved in other serious accidents in the past, including the deaths of more than 40 people since 1999. A video of the incident showed it battered by waves.

As for the survivors, four patients were still in the hospital Friday evening, including two adults in critical condition.

"Very sad to hear about this frightful accident - prayers for all those involved and the first responders who are assisting", Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri said on Twitter.

The Warmuths said they "continue to urge there be safety improvements in duck boat operations across the country and in Boston". One of the boats returned safely and the other sank. 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.

"Flat out, the duck boats should not be on the roads or in the water", Goodman said. A family member shared a photo that showed some of the victims.

A damaging thunderstorm quickly roared across the lake near Branson, Missouri, that regularly draws crowds to tour boats and languid cruises.

"I've been here most of my life and I never saw a storm this bad", he said, adding that he had not seen a warning from local weather stations. "They're not fit for water or land because they are a half vehicle and half boat".

There are roughly 22 of the boats operating in the state, said Lt. Tasha Sadowicz, spokeswoman for the Coast Guard's regional office in St. Louis. Michelle Chaffer, the Brights' eldest daughter, said her mom and dad were grandparents to 16 kids, 10 of whom belong to Chaffer.

The vessel is now sitting 80 feet below the water. "We pray for all those who were affected by this awful tragedy".

President Donald Trump also tweeted his condolences on Friday morning. "May God be with you all!"

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