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Two missing after barge hits boat

Two people have been declared missing after a historic sightseeing boat adrift in a US river with at least 37 people aboard was struck by a barge and capsized, spilling passengers into the water.

The Second World War amphibious "duck boat" had gone into the water in the Delaware River just after 2.30pm local time (7.30pm BST) and suffered a mechanical problem and a small fire, officials said. It was struck about 10 minutes later, then sank.

Rescue crews were looking for a 16-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man believed to have been aboard the vessel, which has wheels and can travel seamlessly on land and water, police Lt Frank Vanore said.

Several people went to hospital, but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

There were 35 passengers and two crew members aboard the boat, said US Coast Guard Senior Chief Bud Holden. Coastguard boats helped by police and fire crews worked to rescue people from the water, he said.

Bystanders along the waterfront screamed as the barge hit the boat, said a security guard who was patrolling the waterfront.

"I whirled around as the barge began to run over the duck boat," said Larry Waxmunski, who works for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. "After the barge hit it - it almost looked like slow motion - the duck boat began to turn over."

"Fortunately, you began to see the life vests popping up almost immediately."

Police boats then began to pluck the tourists out of the water. Television footage showed at least five people being pulled from the water wearing life vests in an area of the river near the Old City neighbourhood, popular with tourists. Helicopter footage showed people in life vests being helped from boats on to a dock and at least one person on a stretcher.

Officials said the barge was owned by the city and being directed by a tugboat owned by K-Sea Transportation Partners of East Brunswick, New Jersey. The duck boat was operated by Ride the Ducks, which also operates tours in a number of US cities.

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