Authorities say 11 are dead after a boat of about 31 passengers capsized Thursday on Rock Lake near the tourist town of Branson, Mo. Doug Rader, the sheriff of Stone County, told reporters late Thursday night.
Another seven people were taken to the hospital, Rader said. Only one of these people was seriously injured, he said. Dive teams were dispatched to search for survivors, but the operations are "completed" for the night and continued in the morning, he said late Thursday.
Five people may still be missing, Rader said. Some of the dead passengers were children.
"This will last all night until tomorrow," he said, "we will still work on it."
Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive on Friday to determine the cause of the tragedy.
The video taken off the boat shortly before the incident showed it flying up and down through rough waves, splashing water in all directions. This was a case where there was strong winds before the heavy rain.
"The winds were behind a so-called gust front," reported weather blogger meteorologist Mike Smith. "There were also strong winds with the heavy rain when he arrived, which would have reduced the visibility to very low levels." Gales of up to 70 or 80 mph were reported at the time of the sinking, he wrote.
said Rader believed the boat capsized and sank due to strong winds and thunderstorms. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued at about 1
According to the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District, several authorities responded shortly after 7:00 pm to the scene of a mass casualty involving a "tourist boat". Local Time
At 19:16, a call to Taney County Public Security Division called for a "water rescue" north of the Branson Belle show boat site on the shores of the lake near Table Rock State Park  "Becoming a Duck We've got about 30 people in the water, "says a broadcast on Broadcastify.com. "It's pretty intense here," another voice later said.
At 19:27, a voice said that several people had already been "picked up".
"We have injuries, a possible CPR in progress, there are a few pontoons to get people out of the water …"
"Some people are already ashore," another caller later said. "We definitely need an ambulance."
A first responder asked if the persons present at the scene of the accident could force viewers back. "We have people out here taking pictures."
Just before 7:45 pm, another member of the response team said there had been "at least six or seven deaths."
"We're trying to dive for more missing people," he said. "We treat some, obviously the injured."
Rader told reporters he did not know how deep the water was where the boat sank. He said he believed death was caused by drowning.
Another caller in the Taney County Public Security Department said that two jet skis have capsized elsewhere on the lake, but that all the people driving them are safely ashore
"This is a very serious one Night for us, for many it will be a long night, "said Melody Pettit, Communications Manager of the City of Branson, during a press conference in front of City Hall. "It's heartbreaking."
Families of victims were welcomed to gather at City Hall overnight. The city set up a command post inside, which offered families to pastors, psychologists and Red Cross services, Pettit said.
Rachel Zerby, who camped by the lake near the spot where the duck boat capsized, told The Washington Post that she had seen duck ships out on the water when the storm arrived.
"We have a clear line of sight to both across the water," Zerby said. "I noticed that most of the boats had left the water, but still at least two or three ducks near the Belle."
The duck that sank was one of two that still worked during the storm, Rader said. When the incident happened, the boats had returned ashore, he said. Some of those on the capsized boat could swim to shore, the Kansas City Star reported.
DUKWs (called "ducks") were originally developed by the US Army for World War II and were amphibious trucks in the form of boats overloading ammunition, supplies and equipment from offshore vessels to troops stationed on beaches. In later years, they were rebuilt for recreation and riding in duck boats became a very popular tourist activity.
The capsized Duck Boat was owned by Ride the Ducks Branson, a tourism company that takes people on tours through the Ozarks with land and water with amphibious vehicles. Ride the Ducks is a national company with multiple locations in the US, including Guam. The Branson operation was bought last year by Ripley Entertainment, said company spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala-Potts to the Washington Post.
Duck boats had a history of fatal accidents both in the water and on land.
In Anyway, The Deadliest Incident, 13 people died in 1999 after a duck boat suddenly began to struggle with water on a tour of Lake Hamilton at Hot Springs, Ark.
In 2015, a Ride the Ducks boat crashed into a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle and four college students were killed. Nearly 50 people were injured.
However, Smagala-Potts said this was the first time that there had been an accident with the duck boats in Branson. The company has been in the city for 40 years and is "a staple of Branson," said Smagala-Potts.
"We are deeply affected by the tragic accident that occurred at Ride The Ducks Branson tonight," she said. "This incident has hit us all deeply, and we will continue to do everything we can to help families and authorities involved in the search and rescue."
Table Rock Lake, about 20 minutes from Branson, is a popular destination for " Watercraft fans ". According to its website, the lake covers 45,000 hectares of land and 800 miles of coastline.
Roger Braillier, a captain of a duck boat for the same company, told the Washington Post, "All hearts hurt for all concerned."
"I know that the captain undoubtedly has done his best," said Braillier, "all of our hearts are in the moment completely broken. "