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Two dead, two missing in Lake Erie boat incident

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Two women are dead and two men missing after their boat apparently struck a submerged reef in Lake Erie during a fishing trip, authorities said on Thursday.

Authorities launched a search for the missing boaters after family members said they had failed to check in on Wednesday after a trip out on the lake.

One of the women was found early Thursday by a private vessel and a second about noon by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel roughly two miles from the first, officials said.

Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick said both women were wearing life jackets and were experienced boaters. He did not release their names.

A Coast Guard rescue boat found debris and a partly submerged motorboat about 5 miles from a marina where a boat trailer and a truck belonging to the boaters were found, authorities said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation, but the boat was found on an underwater reef, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant David Connor said. People would be expected to survive up to eight hours, given the air and water temperature at the time of the incident, he said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey; and Peter Galloway)