(Reuters) – Two survivors have been discharged from a Missouri hospital after 17 people including nine members of one family drowned when a “duck boat” sank during a storm in one of the deadliest U.S. tourist tragedies for years, local media reported.
Two adults and two children remained hospitalized in Branson, Missouri after an adult and a child were released late on Friday, NBC affiliate KY3 News reported, citing a hospital official. The four were listed in stable and fair condition.
Representatives from the CoxHealth Branson hospital and local Stone County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Federal safety officials and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the incident, which began around 7 p.m. Thursday (0000 GMT) when a sudden “microburst” storm swept over Table Rock Lake near Branson, throwing up large white-capped waves.
Two of the World War Two-style amphibious duck boat vehicles were out on the lake and headed back to shore, but only one made it. The other, which was carrying 31 passengers, was swamped by the waves. The dead were aged one to 70 and came from six U.S. states. Seven of the 14 survivors were injured and taken to the hospital, authorities said.
Tia Coleman and her nephew were the only survivors from 11 members of their family who were on the boat.
“I lost all my children, I lost my husband,” Coleman told Indianapolis television channel Fox 59 from her hospital bed in Branson. “I’m OK, but this is really hard, just really hard.”
Coleman said the boat’s captain, who was among the survivors, told the passengers that they would not need to put on life jackets, an action she believed cost lives.
More than three dozen people have died in incidents involving duck boats on land and water in the United States over the past two decades.
Thursday’s disaster in Missouri came just four days after passengers aboard a regular tour boat off Hawaii’s Big Island were pelted with “lava bombs” that left several with third-degree burns and a woman’s leg broken.
Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Franklin Paul