NEWS
20/07/2018 07:43 BST | Updated 20/07/2018 17:10 BST

Children Among 17 Dead After 'Duck Boat' Capsizes In Missouri

Five people still missing as rescue operation prepares to resume.

Children are among 17 people who drowned after an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank in stormy weather on a lake in the US on Thursday.

Emergency crews responded to calls for help as the situation unfolded near Branson, Missouri, at around 7pm local time (0000 GMT).

The vessel was carrying 31 people on Table Rock Lake, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said. 

SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
The scene at Table Rock Lake where an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, US.

Divers will resume searching on Friday for five people who remain missing, police said.

“There was some heavy wind. It was having problems through the wind,” Rader told reporters. “They were coming back toward land. There was actually two ducks. The first one made it out. The second one didn’t.”

Video footage shot by an eyewitness who was on shore showed strong waves tossing two duckboats side to side. The video clip was posted online by KY3.

Life jackets were on board the boat, Rader said.

SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS
Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, US.

“Our number one priority is the families and our employees that were affected by this tragic accident; as of this time right now we are assisting the authorities as they continue with their search and rescue operation,” said Suzanne Smagala-Potts a spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, which owns the local “Ride The Ducks” company which operated the vessel.

She could not confirm how many crew members were aboard the boat.

Duck amphibious vehicles are used on sightseeing tours around the world and have been involved in a number of fatal accidents in the past two decades.

The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million (£768,000) fine after one of the vehicles collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.

The company admitted to failing to comply with US vehicle manufacturing rules.

With reporting from Reuters news agency.