A fire broke out on a charter boat early Monday morning near Santa Cruz Island off coast of Southern California. Five of the crew members from the 75-foot dive boat have been rescued but 34 others are missing.
According to Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath, there have been fatalities but the exact number has not been released, CBS2 reports.
The Coast Guard reported the boat’s crew members were rescued and “efforts were underway to evacuate remaining passengers.” The Coast Guard was checking to see if any survivors had jumped off the boat or made it to the rocks. Crews were still fighting flames on the boat as of 7 a.m., the fire department said.
CBS2 has confirmed Conception is owned by Truth Aquatics, a boat rental and charter service based out of Santa Barbara. According to its website, the Conception has a maximum capacity of 46 people. The company would not immediately comment on the incident when reached by CBS2.
Experienced diver and CBS2 employee Darla Fletcher, who has taken several diving trips with Truth Aquatics, explained that the divers’ quarters on the boat are below deck and very cramped.
“Typically, the crew members will sleep up top, they’re not gonna sleep down there with the divers,” Fletcher said. “Especially on a full boat like this weekend, there were probably divers filling every possible bunk.” (CBS2)
The Los Angeles Coast Guard tweeted about their rescue efforts this morning, but have not provided any updates for several hours.
President Trump retweeted those messages and appears to be following developments.
#CoastInc: @VCFD responded to boat fire off the north side of Santa Cruz Island at approximately 3:28am. @USCG helping support rescue operations for people aboard a dive boat. #ChannelIslands @USCGLosAngeles @CountyVentura @SBCOUNTYFIRE pic.twitter.com/DwoPGfBjtA— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) September 2, 2019
BREAKING NEWS: The Coast Guard has launched multiple rescue assets along with assets from local agencies to assist more than 30 people in distress on a 75ft boat near Santa Cruz Island. More details will be available later as this operation continues.— USCG Los Angeles (@USCGLosAngeles) September 2, 2019
UPDATE: 34 people still unaccounted for after fire breaks out on commercial dive boat off Santa Barbara Islands. Crew were awake and on top deck. Crew jumped off boat. Passengers were below deck asleep. Vessel has been in safety compliance per @USCG— Andrew Blankstein (@anblanx) September 2, 2019
Update: Four bodies have been found and 29 remain missing.
Update: 25 bodies have been found, 9 remain missing.