(BBC) – The 17 victims who died when a tour boat sank in a Missouri lake on Thursday included nine members of one family, officials in the US state say.
A surviving relative told US media that the boat’s captain had told the 31 passengers not to put on life jackets.
The amphibious “duck boat” capsized during a rapidly deteriorating thunderstorm on Table Rock Lake, a popular tourist attraction.
The woman who says she lost nine members of her family has been named as Tia Coleman. She is one of two in her family to have survived.
“I lost all my children, I lost my husband, I lost my mother-in-law, I lost my father-in-law, I lost my uncle, I lost my sister-in-law – she was my sister – and I lost my nephew, I’m OK, but this is really hard,” she told Fox News.
“The captain told us ‘Don’t worry about grabbing the life jackets, you won’t need them,’ so nobody grabbed them because we listened to the captain and he told us to stay seated.
“However in doing that, when it was time to grab them it was too late. I believe that a lot of people could have been spared.”
A relative who was not on the boat told WSB-TV that the other member of the family who survived was a boy, the station said in a tweet.
The captain was among those who survived. He is now in a hospital.
The vessel began taking on water shortly before 19:00 (00:00 GMT) on Thursday.
Video footage shot by a witness on shore showed two duck boats struggling through choppy waters and spray.
One of the boats made it to shore but the other was driven back by the wind and eventually overwhelmed.
Sheriff Doug Rader told reporters he could not say whether passengers were wearing life vests at the time of the capsizing, or if the boat’s windows were open.
Missouri law requires all children under the age of seven to wear life jackets on boats, unless they are in the “cabin area”.
The vessel sank in 40ft (12m) of water before plunging to a final depth of 80ft.