[UPDATE: As of 11:40 a.m. EST, Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader confirmed that the remaining four victims were found deceased. The final death count is 17.]
[9:45 a.m. EST]
The people of Branson, Missouri have been left devastated after a Ride the Ducks boat capsized with 31 tourists on board.
Ride the Ducks boats have been popular tourist attractions for years, branded as a "land and water tour." The vessel is supposed to seamlessly move from land to water to give a full tour of a city, similar to how a duck can move on both land and water.
At 9:50pm on July 19, Missouri authorities announced that one of these tourist boats had capsized on a lake. The weather had been uncooperative, which is what Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader says caused the boat to sink. At that time, the sheriff's office confirmed that eight people had died and others were hospitalized.
Just under three hours later, an update confirmed that 11 people were now confirmed dead and that divers were still searching for other passengers who were on board the tourist boat. Because of the stormy weather, search efforts were hindered.
By 7:15 a.m. this morning, authorities were able to confirm that four people were still missing after the accident. Thirteen people are confirmed dead, and 14 have survived. The tourists were a combination of both kids and adults, and those were died ranged in age from one to 70 years old.
Rescuers are still searching for the remaining victims, but have been held back by the weather.
Allison Lester, who witnessed the capsizing from a nearby boat, said the waters were extremely rough when the ship sank.
"The wind really picked up bad and debris was flying everywhere,” she said.
Suzanne Smagala-Potts of Ride the Ducks Branson, the company involved in the accident, said in a statement:
We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident. This incident has deeply affected all of us. 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. The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority.
Jason Schaumann, a meteorologist, said that at the time of the accident, winds were gusting between 50 and 65 mph. A severe thunderstorm warning had also been issued for that evening.
The owner of the boat company, Jim Pattison, Jr., admitted that the tour should not have taken place in such treacherous conditions.
"I don't have all the details, but to answer your question, no, it shouldn't have been in the water if, if what happened, happened," he said. "This business has been operating for 47 years and we've never had an incident like this or anything close to it. To the best of our knowledge – and we don't have a lot of information now – but it was a fast-moving storm that came out of basically nowhere is sort of the verbal analysis I've got."
President Trump tweeted his condolences to the victims and their families.
My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri. Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018
According to ABC News, the National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate.