Nine members of the same family are among the 17 people who lost their lives when a tourist amphibious vehicle (duck boat) sank in the middle of a storm that broke out in a lake in Missouri in one of the biggest tragedies in the United States with tourists killed in years.
The amphibious vehicle was carrying 31 passengers, including children, when a sudden storm broke out in Lake Rock Lake near Branson, with waves slowly flooding the vehicle before it sank.
More than thirty people have lost their lives in accidents involving amphibious vehicles in the United States in the last two decades.
Tia Coleman stated that she and her nephew are the only survivors of the 11 members of their family who toured the lake with "Ride The Ducks".
"I lost all my children, I lost my husband," Coleman told Indianapolis Fox 59 from a hospital bed in Branson, where she was treated after the tragedy.
"I'm fine, but this is really hard, just very hard," he added.
She noted that the driver of the amphibious vehicle told them not to wear their life jackets, which she believed cost lives. The crew was warned to get into the vehicle quickly as the storm approached, Coleman said.
The 17 victims of the tragedy ranged in age from 1 to 70 and came from six US states, according to authorities. These include Arkansas residents Steve Smith and Lance's son, according to their church newspaper. Smith's daughter survived, while his wife is safe and sound as he preferred not to tour, according to the newspaper.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said seven of the 7 survivors were injured, one seriously.
"Emergency services and rescue teams helped prevent a worse tragedy as people ran to be rescued in extremely difficult conditions," Parson said in a statement.
At the same time, County Sheriff Stone Doug Raider told reporters that as far as he knew, "there were life jackets in the amphibian," but declined to say whether the occupants were wearing them.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the cause of the crash, officials said.
The tragedy unfolded around 19:00 local time on Thursday (03:00 Greek time yesterday Friday), when due to a sudden storm big waves rose in the lake. Two amphibious vehicles sailing on Table Rock at the time headed back ashore, but only one made it.