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13 Dead In Boat Accident

The death toll has risen to 13 from a boat accident in Arkansas, with word of three deaths in one family.

Authorities say that after a woman died in a hospital Sunday, divers returned to Lake Hamilton and found the body of her husband. Their daughter is also among the victims.

Passengers aboard the World War II-vintage boat panicked and scrambled unsuccessfully for life preservers as it took on water and sank in 51 feet of water, Hot Springs city manager Kent Myers said.

Bryan Black of CBS Affiliate KTHV in Little Rock says residents of nearby condominiums reportedly saw the boat in trouble, ran to their own boats and rushed to rescue as many people as they could.

Hot Springs Police Cpl. Mike Buck said 20 people were aboard the boat, known as a duck because of its use on both land and water. The last body, that of a young girl, was pulled from the water about four hours after the mid-day accident.

A survivor told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record that the boat began taking on water from the rear and sank in about 30 seconds. Myers said water flowed into the boat suddenly, causing its passengers to panic during a scramble for life vests. He said the boat sank in one or two minutes.

Myers said the company that operates the ducks continued land operations after the accident but did not take the crafts onto the water.

The city manager said the craft was required to have life preservers aboard but that passengers were not required to wear them. No one aboard was wearing them, said Joe Sexson, the director of emergency services for Hot Springs National Park. Those who survived likely did so because of help from residents of nearby condominiums, he said.

"When people in the nearby condos saw what was happening, they rushed to their boats and went out to help," Sexson said. The accident site was between one-quarter or one-third of a mile offshore, witnesses said.

The dead included people of all ages, including three children, Myers said. The driver survived.

Hot Springs is a tourist community about an hour southwest of Little Rock and is popular with boaters, sailors and sight-seers. After the Oaklawn Park thoroughbred racing season ends each April, visitors flock to several of nearby lakes or to Bathhouse Row, the anchor of the Hot Springs National Park downtown.

The ducks, whose tickets cost $9, often ferry visitors among the city's tourist attractions.

Coast Guard Lt. Bruce Fisher, chief of port operations at Memphis, Tenn., said the duck that sank was owned by White & Yellow Duck Sightseeing Tours. The vehicles are generally World War II surplus property initially built for the U.S. Army to carry troops directly from land into the water. Fisher said.

They have three axles, six wheels and generally hold 25-26 people, including the operator, who rides in the front.

"It's basically a boat hull on wheels," Fisher said.

The boats arinspected by the Coast Guard annually, generally in the late fall or winter, when the tourist season is quiet. The White & Yellow tours are operated by Land and Lake Tours Inc.

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