Missouri Showboat Runs Aground, 600 Evacuated

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More than 600 passengers and crew were stuck on a showboat overnight after high winds caused the vessel to run aground Saturday on a SW Missouri lake, officials said.

By daybreak, rescue efforts began to get the passengers off The Branson Belle that ran aground at Poverty Point on Table Rock Lake. Rescue crews cut a path through the woods to get equipment down to the shore.

The cruise began having problems with propulsion around 6 p.m., said Lisa Rau, a publicist for Herschend Family Entertainment which owns the boat. A tug boat was called to help, but wind picked up and the boat ran aground, Rau said.

At 11 p.m., officials decided it was best to let winds calm before trying to move the boat to where the passengers could disembark. About 567 passengers and 76 crew members were on board.

"The safest thing to do is leave it where it is at," said Sgt. Dan Bracker, spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

No injuries were reported, and Rau said all the passengers were dry.

She said three people on board had medical conditions unrelated to the grounding. An emergency medical technician was on board to help, Rau said.

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