Maine Duck Tours’ M/V Bufflehead emerges from Casco Bay at East End Beach on Friday. The popular Portland attraction says it’s reviewing all of its safety and weather policies in response to a duck boat accident Thursday in Missouri that killed 17 people.

The operators of Maine Duck Tours say they are reviewing all safety and weather policies following a duck boat accident in Missouri that killed 17 people.

The Missouri boat, operated by Ride the Ducks Branson, capsized Thursday night when a strong thunderstorm swept across a lake near Branson. Authorities said 17 people, including some children, were killed when the boat sank to the bottom of the lake, according to The Associated Press.

Kristopher McClure, president of Maine Duck Tours, said the Portland-based company is not associated with Ride the Ducks and does not operate the same type of vessel, but immediately launched a review of its policies. Maine Duck Tours canceled all six of its tours on Tuesday because of fog and predicted thunderstorms. McClure said the company monitors regional and local radar hourly before tours.

“Maine Duck Tours has recently hired an additional staff member to assist with monitoring safety along the waterfront, monitoring changes in winds and weather and communicating with other recreational boaters, our captains and operations manager,” he said in a statement Friday.

Maine Duck Tours has operated its single amphibious vehicle/vessel in Portland since 2005. The two captains who operate the vessel have U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton master’s licenses and have a combined 25 years of safe amphibious vehicle/vessel operation, McClure said.

McClure said the vessel, the M/V Bufflehead, recently passed its annual Coast Guard hull inspection and a stability test that allows it to operate in Portland Harbor with 36 passengers and two crew members. In addition to the captain, a deckhand is on board to narrate the tour and focus on passenger safety, he said.

Duck boat tours, which can be found in cities from Washington to Seattle, have resulted in fatal accidents in the past, both in water and on land. In what was previously the deadliest incident, 13 people died in 1999 after a duck boat suddenly started taking on water while on a tour of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, according to the AP.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Branson incident.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

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