What are duck boats, are amphibious vehicles safe, and what happened in Missouri?

AT least 17 people, including children, have been killed after a tourist duck boat carrying more than 30 people capsized at Table Rock Lake in Missouri on July 19, 2018.

Duck amphibious vehicles are used on sightseeing tours across the world but have been involved in a number of fatal accidents in the past two decades. Here’s more about what they are.

Duck boats are used for tourist trips around the world
Rex Features

What are duck boats?

Duck tours take place on purpose-built amphibious tour buses used as tourist attractions at harbours, rivers and lakes in many cities around the world.

The first ever duck tour company was established in 1946 by Mel Flath and Bob Unger in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and remains in operation today.

Amphibious vehicles, like duck boats, are able to operate both on land and in or under water.

Are amphibious vehicles safe?

There have been many fatal accidents involving amphibious tour buses over the years, making many people question their safety.

In 1999, a DUKW sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas, killing 13 of the 20 people on board.

On June 23, 2002, the Lady Duck sank while on a cruise on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada.

Six passengers, the driver, and the tour guide escaped, but four passengers were trapped under the sunken vehicle’s canopy and drowned.

The accident was blamed on a defective design and a lack of emergency procedures.

Duck tour boats take place all over the world but the first ever duck tour company was established in 1946 by Mel Flath and Bob Unger in Wisconsin

On July 7, 2010, a regulated and modern Ride the Ducks amphibious bus was disabled by an engine fire and later run over by a barge on the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Thirty-three passengers and two crew members were quickly recovered, but two passengers, a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, both part of a tour group from Hungary, were killed.

It was September 29, 2013, when tourists leapt for their lives into the Thames after an
inferno engulfed an amphibious duck bus in London.

On May 8, 2015, a Ride the Ducks boat struck and killed a woman crossing the street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chinatown section.

On September 24, 2015, a Ride the Ducks vehicle in Seattle, Washington, crashed into a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge, killing five passengers on the bus, critically injuring eight, and seriously injuring eight more.

On April 29, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, a 29-year-old woman was killed after the motor scooter she was operating collided with a Duck Boat, as both vehicles turned on to Beacon Street adjacent to the Boston Common.

On July 19, 2018, in Branson, Missouri, 11 people died and at least 13 were injured after a duck boat carrying 31 people capsized in Table Rock Lake during a severe thunderstorm.

What happened in Missouri?

Seventeen people, including children, were killed after the duck tourist boat they were on capsized and sank at Table Rock Lake in Missouri on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at around 7pm local time.

The victims include nine members of the same family.

A surviving member of the family, Tia Coleman, recalled the captain saying to her husband “don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets — you won’t need them”.

She said this meant none of her family took one, despite them being on board.

The boat was carrying 31 people when it was caught up in a severe thunderstorm in the area.

Five remain missing while six were taken to hospital following the incident on the Ride the Ducks amphibious at the lake.

Two adults in hospital are in a serious condition and two children are now in a stable condition.

Divers searched for the missing overnight and the operation will resume in the early hours of Friday morning.

The tragedy has been labelled a “mass casualty incident” by emergency services.

The boat was captured on camera being lashed by massive waves as it rolled in rough water due to heavy winds.

Reports suggest there were life jackets on board the vessel when it sank.

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