The Latest: 25 bodies found after California boat fire

News

Maya Upton, of Santa Barbara, Calif., places flowers at outside of the Sea Landing at Santa Barbara Harbor in Santa Barbara on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on a dive boat on fire off the coast of California (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

The Coast Guard says 25 people have been located and nine remain unaccounted for following a boat fire off the Southern California coast.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll says Monday night authorities have recovered 20 bodies and discovered five more. Those five cannot be recovered due to unsafe conditions under the Conception, a dive ship that had been on a three-day scuba diving excursion to the Channel Islands.

Four bodies had been recovered Monday morning and 16 others were recovered later in the day.

Kroll says authorities will continue to search overnight for the nine remaining people.

Officials said there were five surviving crew members.

___

4:45 p.m.

Police have interviewed the five crew members who survived a boat fire off the Southern California coast.

The Coast Guard says 39 people were aboard the Conception, a dive ship on a three-day scuba diving excursion to the Channel Islands. There was a six-member crew and 33 passengers when the fire broke out about 3 a.m. Monday and quickly engulfed the boat.

Five crew members survived after jumping overboard and making it to a nearby boat. It’s unclear what efforts they made to help the passengers.

Eight bodies have been found and 26 people missing.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says police have interviewed the men but didn’t disclose what they said. No cause for the fire has been identified and Brown says at this stage there’s no reason to believe it involved a criminal act.

___

4:20 p.m.

Authorities say four more victims of a catastrophic dive boat fire have been located on the ocean floor off Southern California, bringing the known death toll to eight.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says the additional victims were found Monday close to the sunken vessel but the boat remains unstable and it’s uncertain when those remains will be recovered.

Four unidentified bodies recovered earlier Monday are those of two men and two women.

Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester says the search for more than two dozen other missing persons will go on into Tuesday morning but that but people should be prepared for “the worst outcome.”

___

2:05 p.m.

A scuba diver who has frequently gone on expeditions on the boat where a deadly fire broke out Monday says it and others in its operator’s fleet are among the safest and best maintained he’s seen.

Four people died and 29 are missing after flames erupted on the Conception, which later sank anchored just off Santa Cruz Island. Five crew members who were on the boat’s top deck managed to escape.

Dave Reid, who runs an underwater camera business with his wife, said the boat’s operator, Truth Aquatics, has immaculate boats and its crew is top notch.

But Reid, who is familiar with the boat’s configuration, notes all divers sleep on the lowest level.

He says divers are not locked into that level but if a fire erupted above them it would be difficult for any to escape through a narrow stairway.

___

1:15 p.m.

The boat with 33 passengers aboard that burned while anchored close to shore of one of Southern California’s Channel Islands had no recent safety violations.

The Santa Barbara-based Conception was carrying recreational scuba divers and caught fire early Monday. Five crew members jumped to safety but all 33 passengers were missing. Four bodies were later recovered and the search for others continued Monday afternoon.

Coast Guard records show inspections conducted last February and in August 2018 found no deficiencies. Earlier inspections found some safety violations related to fire safety.

A 2016 inspection resulted in owners replacing the heat detector in the galley and one in 2014 cited a leaky fire hose.

Records show all safety violations from the last five years were quickly addressed by the boat’s owners.

___

11 a.m.

The Coast Guard says four bodies have been recovered near a dive boat that caught fire off the California coast with dozens of people aboard.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll says the bodies recovered Monday morning had injuries consistent with drowning.

Searchers are continuing to look for 29 other people who were aboard the vessel Conception, which burned while anchored off Santa Cruz Island.

Five crew members were awake when the fire broke out and were able to jump into the water. They were rescued by a passing pleasure craft.

Authorities have given fluctuating information about the number of people aboard the vessel. The Coast Guard now says a sixth crewmember who was on the manifest was actually not aboard.

___

9:35 a.m.

A fire official says there are confirmed fatalities as rescue crews continue their search after a boat caught fire off the coast of Southern California.

Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath tells The Associated Press that they have confirmed “some fatalities” after Monday morning’s fire near Santa Cruz Island. He would not provide a specific number.

Coast Guard officials said five crew members were awake when the fire broke out aboard the 75-foot (23-meter) commercial diving vessel and were able to jump into the water. Others are believed to have been asleep below deck.

The Coast Guard says a search and rescue operation is still underway.

The Coast Guard statement says fire department crews were fighting the flames when the vessel sank 20 yards (18 meters) off shore.

___

9:15 a.m.

The Coast Guard says 34 people are missing after a fire broke out aboard a dive boat off the coast of Southern California.

Earlier, authorities said they were searching 33.

Five people were rescued and Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll told The Associated Press the Coast Guard was searching for others who may have been able to escape the fire by jumping from the boat. A statement by the agency says they were evacuated aboard a passing good Samaritan pleasure craft. Two of the crew suffered minor injuries.

The Coast Guard statement says fire department crews were fighting the flames when the vessel sank 20 yards (18 meters) off shore in 64 feet (19.5 meters) of water. A portion of the bow is sticking out of the water.

___

8:36 a.m.

The Coast Guard says 33 people are missing after a fire broke out aboard a dive boat off the coast of Southern California.

Earlier, authorities said they were searching for 34.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll of the U.S. Coast Guard said five crewmembers sleeping on the top deck of the 75-foot (20-meter) commercial scuba diving vessel were rescued. A statement by the agency says they were evacuated aboard a passing good Samaritan pleasure craft. One of the crew suffered minor injuries.

The Coast Guard statement says fire department crews were fighting the flames when the vessel sank 20 yards (18 meters) off shore in 64 feet (19.5 meters) of water. A portion of the bow is sticking out of the water.

___

8:35 a.m.

The dive boat where a fire broke out before dawn Monday morning was on a Labor Day weekend cruise taking divers to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

The vessel Conception was operated by Santa Barbara-based Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website it has been operating such expeditions since 1972.

This weekend trip had departed at 4 a.m. Saturday with plans to return at 5 p.m. Monday.

It was outfitted with dozens of small berths for people to sleep in overnight.

The trip promised multiple opportunities to see colorful coral and a variety of marine life.

___

Some people have died and rescuers were searching for 34 more Monday morning after a fire broke out aboard a dive boat off the Southern California Coast.

Capt. Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department confirmed some deaths to The Daily Beast but said he could not give an exact number.

Five crewmembers sleeping on the top deck of the 75-foot (20-meter) commercial scuba diving vessel were rescued, according to Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll of the U.S. Coast Guard. But he said 34 passengers who were sleeping below deck have not been accounted for.

One of the crew suffered minor injuries.

The Coast Guard has helicopters, small boats and a patrol cutter in the area for a search-and-rescue operation off of Santa Cruz Island, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from Los Angeles.

The Ventura County Fire Department said on Twitter that it responded to the fire around 3:30 a.m.

It’s not clear how many people were on the boat, but the Coast Guard earlier said that more than 30 people were “in distress.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss