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US coast guard to raise tourist boat involved in Missouri tragedy

Seventeen people were killed when the amphibious duck boat sank during strong winds last week.

The US coast guard is scheduled to begin the retrieval of a duck boat that sank while carrying tourists on a southern Missouri lake during powerful winds, killing 17 people.

Divers are expected to swim down to the Ride the Ducks boat and connect it to a crane, which will then lift it to the surface.

The boat went down on Thursday evening in Table Rock Lake on the edge of the tourist town of Branson after a thunderstorm generated near-hurricane strength winds. The boat is submerged in 80ft of water.

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Mourners attend a memorial service (J.B. Forbes/AP)

Nine of the people who died belonged to one Indiana family. Others killed came from Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois.

Divers already have recovered a video-recording device that was aboard the boat, although it is unclear whether it was working when the boat capsized or whether any data can be retrieved.

The recorder is being taken to the National Transportation Safety Board lab in Washington DC.

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Branson Mayor Karen Best speaks at the memorial (Nathan Papes/AP)

Keith Holloway, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman, said it was unclear what the recorder captured, including whether it recorded audio.

Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service in the St. Louis area, has said he issued a written report in August 2017 for Ripley Entertainment, which owns Ride the Ducks in Branson, after inspecting two dozen boats.

In the report, he explained why the vessels’ engines – and pumps that remove water from their hulls – might fail in inclement weather.

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A programme listing the names of the victims (John Sleezer/AP)

Mr Paul said he will not know if the boat that sank is one that he inspected until it has been recovered from the lake.

Suzanne Smagala, of Ripley Entertainment, said the company is assisting authorities with the rescue effort and that the accident last week was the company’s first in more than 40 years of operation in Branson.

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