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A boat carrying 31 people capsized on a lake near Branson, Missouri, as thunderstorms moved through the area on Thursday evening.
The incident occurred on the “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle on Table Rock Lake, which is located a few miles southwest of Branson, according to the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told the assembled media that 17 people died after the boat sank.
Search and rescues efforts turned into a recovery operation on Friday as divers searched for missing victims. Recovery efforts concluded Friday morning when the bodies of the remaining four missing people were recovered.
Nine of the 17 people who died were from one family, the Missouri governor's office said on Friday afternoon.
Rader said the boat sank in 40 feet of water and eventually rolled into 80 feet of water. He also said authorities had located the boat and would be recovering it, according to the Associated Press.
Divers from Western Taney County Fire were on the scene until 11:30 p.m. Thursday, officials said. The Missouri Highway Patrol Dive Team took over diving operations on Friday.
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AccuWeather has reached out to the Stone County Sheriff office to offer our forecasting expertise to keep people safe during rescue and recovery.
Along with the 29 passengers, two crew members were on the boat.
Emergency crews were called to the incident shortly after 7 p.m. CDT Thursday, according to the fire district's Twitter page.
A line of severe thunderstorms rolled through the area between 6 and 7 p.m. CDT.
Due to forecast warnings, the Showboat Branson Belle, a riverboat that hosts lunch and dinner shows, stayed docked during the severe storm.
Springfield-Branson Regional Airport, located about 50 miles north of Branson, recorded a wind gust of 65 mph as the storms blew through.
Branson Airport clocked a wind gust of 63 mph at 7:25 p.m. CDT.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson ordered all flags at state and government offices to be flown at half-staff until July 27, in remembrance of the victims.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the victims in this tragic event that's occurred down here," Parson said in a Friday press conference.
President Donald Trump expressed his condolences on Twitter Friday morning.
My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved in the terrible boat accident which just took place in Missouri. Such a tragedy, such a great loss. May God be with you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to the scene.
NTSB launching Go Team to investigate July 19, 2018, amphibious vehicle accident at Table Rock Lake, near Branson, MO. Team will travel Friday morning.— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) July 20, 2018
Branson is a popular tourist destination that attracts over 7 million visitors annually, according to the Branson Tourism Center. The city is located about 210 miles to the southeast of Kansas City.
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