Families of Missouri ‘duck boat’ sinking victims sue tour company

Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

By Diana Kruzman

(Reuters) – The families of four of the 17 people killed when a World War Two-style tourist “duck boat” sank on a Missouri lake during a storm this month have sued the tour operator, saying it recklessly allowed the vessel out in dangerous weather.

On Sunday, relatives of Ervin Coleman, 76, and 2-year-old Maxwell Ly, his great-nephew, both of Indianapolis, sued tour operator Ripley Entertainment Inc, which operates under the name Ride the Ducks, and vessel manufacturer Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing LLC, a Ripley unit, alleging they “recklessly risked the lives of its passengers for purely financial reasons.”

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, seeks $100 million in damages.

A separate lawsuit filed on Monday in Taney County, Missouri, on behalf of the children of William and Janice Bright names Ripley Entertainment, Ride the Ducks and the two operators of the boat, and seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

Ripley Entertainment declined comment on the lawsuits, but said it was “deeply saddened” by the incident.

There were 31 passengers aboard the duck boat on Table Rock Lake, outside Branson, Missouri, on July 19 when hurricane-strength winds churned up the water and sank the craft, causing one of the deadliest U.S. tourist tragedies in recent years.

The boats, modeled on the amphibious landing craft used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944, have a checkered history involving more than three dozen fatalities on water and land, including the Branson sinking, according to the complaint.

“This tragedy was the predictable and predicted result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven, and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry in the face of specific and repeated warnings that their Duck Boats are death traps for passengers,” the federal complaint said.

Robert Mongeluzzi, an attorney for the families of Coleman and Ly, told a news conference on Monday: “The quest for justice includes doing everything within our power to ban duck boats once and for all,” according to a statement.

Mongeluzzi represented the families of two people killed when a duck boat crashed into a barge and sank in Philadelphia in 2010, resulting in a $17 million settlement.

The federal suit alleges that Ride the Ducks endangered passengers by letting the boat out on the water after the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area, and that passengers were not told to put on life jackets. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident.

A duck boat sank in Arkansas in 1999, killing 13 people and prompting the NTSB to recommend changes to duck boats’ design to make them less prone to capsizing. The federal lawsuit alleges that Ride the Ducks ignored those warnings because of cost.

(Reporting by Diana Kruzman in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

Vietnam flood death toll rises to 27, more rain forecast

A woman wades through a flooded village after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) – The death toll from floods and landslides triggered by tropical storm Son Tinh rose to 27 on Tuesday, and seven people are still missing, the government’s Disaster Management Authority said.

With a long coastline, Vietnam is prone to destructive storms and flooding, with 389 people killed last year in natural disasters such as floods and landslides, according to government statistics.

A woman paddles past a submerged temple with her granddaughter after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh at a village outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 24, 2018, REUTERS/Kham

A woman paddles past a submerged temple with her granddaughter after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh at a village outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 24, 2018, REUTERS/Kham

Though tropical storm Son Tinh weakened to a tropical depression by the time it reached Vietnam last week, the torrential rains it brought caused heavy flooding and landslides in many parts of northern Vietnam. Some areas in the outskirts of the capital Hanoi remain submerged.

The remote mountainous province of Yen Bai has suffered the heaviest casualties in the latest floods and landslides, with 13 people reportedly killed, 18 injured and four missing, the disaster management agency said in a statement.

The floods and landslides have also damaged and submerged more than 12,000 houses, more than 90,000 hectares (222,395 acres) of crops, mostly paddy, and cut off traffic to several parts of northern Vietnam, the agency said.

Last month, heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides which killed 24 people in the remote and mountainous northern provinces of Lai Chau and Ha Giang.

A man stands at his submerged house after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh at a village outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 24, 2018, REUTERS/Kham

A man stands at his submerged house after heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Son Tinh at a village outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 24, 2018, REUTERS/Kham

The agency urged the authorities and people to keep vigilant for more floods and landslides over the coming days.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, heavy rain is forecast to continue in the northern part of the country until early August.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen and Khanh Vu; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Coast Guard to raise Missouri tourist boat after deadly sinking

Rescue personnel work after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – The U.S. Coast Guard was preparing on Monday morning to recover the “duck boat” that sank beneath storm-whipped waves in a Missouri lake last week, drowning 17 people in one of the deadliest tourist accidents in the United States in years.

After raising the World War Two-style amphibious landing craft from Table Rock Lake outside the popular vacation town of Branson, the Coast Guard said, it will hand boat over to federal investigators.

Thirty-one people were aboard the Ride the Ducks boat last Thursday when a sudden, intense storm struck, with winds just shy of hurricane strength churning the lake’s waters. Less than half survived the accident and officials are looking into what the boat’s operators knew about the weather forecast before setting out.

FILE PHOTO: A duck boat is seen at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, U.S., July 19, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. Ron Folsom/via REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: A duck boat is seen at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, U.S., July 19, 2018 in this picture grab obtained from social media video. Ron Folsom/via REUTERS

Among the dead were the boat’s driver and nine members of a single family. A memorial service was held in Branson on Sunday for the victims.

More than three dozen people have died in incidents involving duck boat vehicles in the United States over the past two decades, both on water and land.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has said the state is contemplating whether to bring criminal charges.

Ripley Entertainment, which owns the duck boat ride, has said the boats should not have been out in such bad weather and that the intensity of the storm was unexpected.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the causes of the accident, will look into what the boat operators knew about the weather forecast before taking the boat out.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

Seventeen dead after Missouri tourist boat sinks in storm

By Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – Divers on Friday pulled the last four bodies from the wreckage of a “duck boat” that sank in a storm in a Missouri lake, killing 17 people in one of the deadliest U.S. tourist incidents in recent years.

The World War Two-style amphibious vehicle was filled with 31 passengers including children when a microburst storm hit Table Rock Lake outside the tourist city of Branson, Missouri, on Thursday. A video of the incident showed it battered by waves.

Wendy Doucey, an office manager at the Stone County sheriff’s office, said that divers had recovered the four bodies from the sunken duck boat. The vehicle was 80 feet (24 m) underwater.

“It’s important that we find out for sure what events did occur,” Governor Michael Parson said at a Friday morning news conference. “Today it’s just still early.”

The incident began around 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) on Thursday after thunderstorms rolled through the area when two duck boats were out on the lake, officials said. Both headed back to shore but only one made it.

“From what I understand there were life jackets in the duck,” Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told the press conference. He declined to answer questions about whether passengers on the duck had been wearing them at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating, officials said. Rader noted that the boat’s captain survived the sinking but the driver did not.

Officials did not comment on the identities or ages of the other people who drowned.

Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious "duck boat" capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

Rescue personnel are seen after an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

‘NOTHING YOU COULD DO’

Jennie Carr witnessed the last moments of the tourist duck boat while on a lake cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle.

“The one that sunk, it was having trouble. You could tell that it couldn’t go very fast. He kept sinking down in the water a little bit. The waves went over the top of it,” Carr told NBC’s “Today” show. “There wasn’t really nothing you could do.”

Carr could not be reached for further comment.

The company that owned the duck boat, Ripley Entertainment, said that it was working with families of the victims.

“Our number one priority is the families and our employees that were affected by this tragic accident,” spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala-Potts said Thursday.

Table Rock Lake is a 67-square-mile (174 sq km) reservoir containing water impounded by the Table Rock Dam on the White River.

Duck vehicles, used on sightseeing tours around the world, have been involved in a number of fatal accidents on land and in the water in the past two decades.

Thirteen people died in 1999 when the duck boat they were riding near Hot Springs, Arkansas, sank suddenly.

The company that builds ducks, Ride the Ducks International LLC, agreed in 2016 to pay a $1 million fine after one of the vehicles, which operate on land as well as water, collided with a bus in Seattle, killing five international students.

The company admitted to failing to comply with U.S. vehicle manufacturing rules.

Two tourists died in Philadelphia in 2010 when the duck boat they were riding in was struck by a tugboat in the Delaware River.

Branson, in southwestern Missouri, is a family-friendly tourist destination whose attractions include “Dolly Parton’s Stampede” dinner theater, the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai and a Titanic museum with a model of the sunken vessel’s front half.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Gina Cherelus in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Writing by Scott Malone; Editing Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky)

Tropical Storm Chris to become hurricane on Tuesday: NHC

Tropical Storm Chris is shown off the eastern coast of North and South Carolina, U.S., in this satellite image July 9, 2018 at 16:12 UTC. NOAA/Goes-East Imagery/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Chris is expected to develop to hurricane strength on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

The storm was about 210 miles (340 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h), the Miami-based weather forecaster said.

Chris is expected to gain additional strength on Wednesday, the NHC said.

(Reporting by Karen Rodrigues and Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru)

Storms kill at least 78 in western and northern India

People remove the logs of uprooted trees from a road after strong winds and dust storm in Alwar, in the western state of Rajasthan, India May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Hail and rain storms knocked down power poles and uprooted trees, killing at least 78 people in northern and western India, government officials said on Thursday.

Thirty-three people were killed on Wednesday in the western desert state of Rajasthan and 45 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, authorities said.

A damaged electric pole is pictured in a market after strong winds and dust storm in Alwar, in the western state of Rajasthan, India May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

A damaged electric pole is pictured in a market after strong winds and dust storm in Alwar, in the western state of Rajasthan, India May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

“We experienced a fierce storm, with an unusually high wind speed, and as a result, 33 people died in Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan,” Hemant Gera, responsible for relief and disaster management in Rajasthan, told Reuters by phone from Jaipur, the state capital.

Storms lashed four districts of Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Bijnore and Agra.

Heavy rain and high winds knocked down electricity poles and trees, blocked roads and disrupted power supplies in the worst affected areas.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Winter storm to strike U.S. East, snarling traffic, closing schools

A pedestrian walks through a late season snow storm in New York, U.S., March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – Millions of commuters along the U.S. East Coast will face another round of heavy snow, ice and wind gusts on Wednesday when the fourth major snow storm this month strikes the region, closing schools, grounding flights and halting buses and trains.

The nor’easter storm is on track to dump up to a foot of snow and bring gusts of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kmph) to major cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston on Wednesday and into Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

“Significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice will make travel very hazardous or impossible,” the service said in an advisory for New Jersey.

More than 2,000 flights had already been canceled on Tuesday evening at the three major airports that serve New York. Airlines said they were waiving fees to change flights from and to the East Coast.

The storm forced schools across the region including those in Philadelphia and New York, the largest school district in the United States, to cancel classes on Wednesday.

“For everyone’s safety, because it could be such a big storm … we want to be ahead of it,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

Both Greyhound bus service and Amtrak passenger train service suspended or abbreviated routes for the day. Throughout the East Coast, local bus and train services that millions of people rely on to commute to and from work and school also canceled service on Wednesday.

Widespread power outages were also expected on Wednesday as heavy snow and ice along winds may topple trees and power lines, the service said.

The latest storm comes after storms on March 2, 7 and 12 left at least 9 people dead across the region and more than 2 million homes and businesses without power.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

Tropical storm Eliakim kills 17 in Madagascar: authorities

The aftermath of the tropical storm Eliakim near Manambonitra, Atsinanana region, Madagascar, March 18, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Erino Razafimanana/ via REUTERS

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – At least 17 people died when a tropical storm hit eastern Madagascar over the weekend, authorities said.

More than 6,000 people were displaced by the storm, called Eliakim, the National Office of Risk and Disaster Management said in a statement late on Sunday.

The tropical storm hit the island’s Mananara region, 635 km north-east of Antananarivo, on Saturday night and had a wind speed of 85 km per hour and gusts of 120 km per hour.

In January, the island’s disaster management office said Tropical Cyclone Ava killed 51 people.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Jason Neely)

Half-a-million still without power after storm in U.S. Northeast

A worker clear debris from a tree that had fallen on to a house as a storm bringing high winds passes over Kensington, Maryland, U.S., March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) – Some 500,000 customers remained without power throughout the eastern United States on Sunday evening and New England coastal communities faced more flooding two days after a powerful storm snapped trees, downed wires and killed at least nine people.

The remnants of the storm, known as a nor’easter, lingered on Sunday, with the National Weather Service posting coastal flood advisories in effect until Monday morning in much of the U.S. Northeast even after the storm had passed.

Some half a million customers still lacked power, according to data provided by 10 major utilities in the Middle Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast. At one point, 2 million customers had lost power.

The brunt of the storm hit on Friday, packing hurricane-force winds in excess of 90 miles per hour (145 kph) and sending seawater churning into streets in Boston and nearby shore towns, marking the second time the area had been flooded this year.

Falling trees killed seven people in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia, according to local media and police. Two others died in the storm, according to media reports, including a 41-year-old man in Andover, New Jersey, who came in contact with power lines.

Private forecasting service AccuWeather said the storm dumped as much as 18 inches (46 cm) of snow on parts of New York state and Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts town of East Bridgewater received nearly 6 inches (15 cm) of rain, the NWS said.

The storm also snarled transportation from the Middle Atlantic into New England, with more than a quarter of flights in and out of New York’s three major airports and Boston’s airport canceled on Friday, tracking service FlightAware.com reported.

The problems carried over into Saturday, with hundreds of flights canceled into and out of New York and Boston, according to the website.

One flight landing at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Friday experienced turbulence so rough that most passengers became sick and the pilots were on the verge of becoming ill, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Storm barrels through U.S. Midwest with snow and frigid temperatures

Satellite image from the National Weather Service. 2-9-18

By Brendan O’Brien and Suzannah Gonzales

MILWAUKEE, Wis./CHICAGO (Reuters) – A major winter storm barreled into Chicago and Milwaukee early on Friday, dumping heavy snow and dropping temperatures well below freezing as it forced schools to close and threatened to leave travel at a stand still across the Midwest.

The storm system stretches from western Montana across the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, and reaches as far east as southern Michigan. The storm could drop up to 14 inches (36 cm) of snow in some areas, the National Weather Service said.

Chicago was anticipating six to 12 inches of snow early on Friday morning with more snow expected over the weekend, according to the service’s weather forecast.

“The city is ready for this,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during a news conference about the city’s preparedness on Thursday. “Make no mistake though, this is a heavy snow, heavier than we’ve seen in a number of winters.”

City officials announced school closures in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee because of the weather.

Wind chill temperatures were expected to drop below 0 Fahrenheit (-18 C) in many areas across the region, and officials warned of limited visibility on roads.

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports canceled more than 200 flights on Thursday before the storm hit, and several airlines were also anticipating delays or cancellations.

United Airlines said on Twitter that waivers were in effect for snow-hit areas this week allowing travelers to change flights without charges, and Delta Air Lines offered to rebook flights on Friday for 18 Midwest cities.

Winter weather across the United States this week killed several people in accidents in the Midwest, including six in Iowa, two in Missouri and one in Montana, local media in those states reported.

(Editing by Peter Graff)