At least 8 reported dead, dozens missing in tragedy off Southern California coast
At least eight people have been reported dead, and dozens are 大发5分彩豹子missing after a commercial diving boat caught fire early Monday off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in Southern California.
"Four victims have been recovered thus far as deceased. They have been transported to our coroner's bureau. We can only identify them at this point as two adult males and two adult females," Santa Barbara County's Sheriff-Coroner Bill Brown said during a news conference Monday.
"A rescue-and-recovery effort on the scene has identified an additional four victims on the ocean floor in close proximity to the vessel," he added.
Dive teams were in the water trying to recover the additional victims' bodies, Brown said, who added that it was a difficult task because the boat was unstable.
Brown said the four recovered victims will have to be identified through DNA, which will take some time.
US Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester said there were 39 people on board, six of whom were crew, and 33 passengers.
"This isn't a day that we wanted to wake up to for Labor Day, and it is a very tragic event, and we will search all the way through the night and into the morning, but I think we should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome," Rochester said.
Authorities have provided a safety zone measuring around 1 mile, in addition to a 3,000-foot ceiling for temporary flight restrictions around the area where the tragedy occurred to protect the responders, Rochester added.
Mike Eliason, a public information officer with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, told China Daily that five people on the boat were rescued.
The 75-feet vessel Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor, was on a three-day excursion to the island when it caught fire, authorities said.
The vessel departed 4 am Saturday from Santa Barbara Harbor for a Labor Day trip and was scheduled to return Monday, Brown said.
According to a press release from the Coast Guard, a mayday call came in at approximately 3:15 am Monday.
The vessel sank 20 yards off shore in 64 feet of water at around 7:20 am Monday when the fire department crews were still actively fighting the fire, the cause of which is being investigated.
The five people rescued, all of whom were crew members, were evacuated aboard a Good Samaritan pleasure craft named Grape Escape, the press release said.
"Their location on the boat was different than the rest of the passengers; they were up at a higher point of the boat," Eliason said.
Rochester told the media that the surviving crew members were already awake and were above the deck when the fire broke out, so they were able to jump off the boat. The rest of the passengers were sleeping below the deck.
"Our hearts are with the families and loved ones affected by this tragic incident. As we wait to hear more, we are eternally grateful for our heroic first responders that are on site working to ensure every individual is found," California Governor Gavin Newsom posted on Twitter.
The authorities have set up a family assistance center in Santa Barbara for families of the victims. A public information telephone line also has been provided for families of the victims.
At least 10 agencies, including the Ventura County Fire Department, Santa Barbara Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are involved in the rescue and investigation, Eliason said.
"We are always hopeful that there would be more survivors found, and the search-and-rescue operation continues today and will through tomorrow morning; [we're] doing everything that we can to try to see if anyone could've survived this," Brown said.