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Safety questions after duck boat sinks and kills 17

July 23, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Amphibious “duck boats”, used for tourist rides but originally designed as troop transports in WWII, have come under scrutiny following a shocking accident in the US that killed 17 people during a sudden violent storm.

The dead include children, elderly people and many from one family. The tragedy on Table Rock Lake outside the US tourist town of Branson, Missouri, is raising serious questions. A similar duck boat sinking in Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999. Experts say there can be difficulties in escaping from duck boats in emergencies because of awnings over the top.

Reports from the US cite a witness’ video of the craft battling heavy waves just before it went down. Questions are being asked about whether the craft’s flexible plastic windows might have been closed and could have trapped passengers. The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

BuzzFeed News quoted lawyer Andrew Duffy recalling a 2010 duck boat crash on the Delaware River that left two tourists dead.

“The duck boats are death traps,” Duffy said.

Duck boats derive their name from DUKW, a military designation in World War II which quickly became known as Duck.

Wikipedia notes: “Excelling at approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious warfare attacks, it [the DUKW] was intended only to last long enough to meet the demands of combat. Surviving DUKWs have since found popularity as tourist craft in marine environments.”

A British DUKW carries American airborne troops and supplies across the River Waal at Nijmegen in the Netherlands, 30 September 1944

The US Coast Guard said the boat that sank in last week’s tragedy was built 74 years ago, in 1944, and had passed an inspection in February, the Kansas City Star reported.

Written by Peter Needham

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