July 20 (UPI) — At least 13 people drowned and four were missing Friday after a tourist “duck boat” sank in southeast Missouri, authorities said.
Sgt. Jason Pace of the Missouri Highway Patrol said the dead include children, possibly as young as 1 year old, and elderly tourists.
Pace said the 12th and 13th bodies were found in the lake early Friday.
Stone County, Mo., Sheriff Doug Rader said the “Ride the Ducks” boat carrying 31 people sank in Table Rock Lake, near Branson, Mo., Thursday.
At least seven people were hospitalized. A hospital representative told KYTV at least one was critically hurt.
The cause of the accident is under investigation but officials believe weather played a role.
The sinking occurred amid thunderstorms and wind speeds as high as 63 mph. One witness’ video shows two other tourist boats struggling to get through choppy water and high winds.
“Ride the Ducks” boats are amphibious vehicles that take tourists through Missouri’s Ozarks. Spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala-Potts said the company is still trying to gather information.
“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.”
“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!”