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17 Die After Boat Capsizes Due to Severe Storms In Iowa



Multiple tornadoes tore through central Iowa on Thursday afternoon, hitting key landmarks in some cities, such as the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown and Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella, according to KCCI Des Moines.


Heavy rain, damaging winds and hail were also part of the system.


As well, divers recovered the four remaining bodies Friday from a lake at this tourism hot spot, bringing the death toll to 17 after an amphibious duck boat capsized during a severe thunderstorm that churned up 5-foot waves, USA Today reports.


Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader told MSNBC that the recovery of the four remaining missing bodies from Table Rock Lake “brings some closure” to the tragedy that struck the tourist vessel.

The driver of the Ride the Ducks tourist boat was among the victims as the vessel sank in 40 feet of water, Rader told reporters earlier Friday. The captain of the boat survived.


The boat, a hybrid land and water vehicle, had 31 people on board on Table Rock Lake when the incident happened near the Showboat Branson Belle, according to USA Today.


An off-duty sheriff’s deputy, who was working on the showboat when a line of the thunderstorms blew through between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., jumped in the water to save some of the passengers, Rader said.


Back in Iowa, seven people inside the manufacturing plant were taken to the hospital and treated for injuries. They have since been released, KCCI Des Moines reports.


Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy confirmed Thursday evening that all the injuries were minor and all patients have been discharged.


The company, which has about 2,800 employees, makes agricultural machinery, including hay balers and mowers, and equipment for the pipeline and forestry management industries, according to KCCI Des Moines.


Vermeer CEO Jason Andringa said that 400 dealers and customers were in town to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary. He said operations will be closed Friday as crews assess the structural damage.


Emergency responders tried breaching the damaged building to see if anyone was trapped inside.


Vice President of Operations Vince Newendorp said the east half of the company’s campus, which includes seven manufacturing buildings, sustained extensive damage.


He said the plant activated its storm warning system and workers were in shelters when the storm hit.


One of the factory’s several manufacturing buildings took on bad and widespread damage, with metal thrown all across the parking lot and across the street into a cornfield.


Video sent to KCCI shows vehicles overturned and toppled onto others.


Alliant Energy said in a news release said before beginning restoration efforts, crews will need to de-energize downed lines and turn off ruptured gas lines.


Customers should avoid downed lines and ruptured gas lines because they are extremely dangerous. Customers can report electric and gas outages via 1-800-ALLIANT.


One of the tornadoes tore through downtown Marshalltown on Thursday afternoon, damaging several buildings in the main business district, including the historic courthouse.


A Twitter user sent video to KCCI of the top of the Marshall County Courthouse falling over as the twister made its way through the area. The clock tower was destroyed and windows were blown out.


The clerk of court office will be closed Friday, and all court hearings scheduled at the courthouse are canceled. Litigants will be notified when their cases have been rescheduled.


Capt. Brian Batterson, with the Marshalltown Police Department, said emergency response personnel are working to assess the damage, tend to the injured and respond to calls for help.

A curfew was scheduled to go into effect at 9 p.m., police said. “Everyone should stay home and off the streets unless it is an emergency,” Batterson said.


Residents were asked to stay out of the north part of town, KCCI reports. There are downed power lines, gas leaks and several damaged buildings. Batterson also said the police department was unoccupied due to damage and a gas leak in the area.


A weather service spotter reported vehicles overturned and numerous trees down. There were also reports of damage to the Lennox plant, according to a spokesperson, but there were no reported injuries to on-site employees. The extent of the damage to the facility is being assessed.


A spokesperson for UnityPoint Health in Marshalltown said the hospital sustained damage from the tornado as well and that 40 patients were being evacuated.


UnityPoint Health spokeswoman Amy Varcoe, who is based in Des Moines, said it was unclear how severely the UnityPoint hospital in Marshalltown was damaged, but the patients were relocated to the health system’s medical centers in Waterloo and Grundy Center and said they are “unable to treat incoming patients.”


More funnel clouds were reported farther north near Iowa Falls.


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