Four bodies recovered in Coast Guard rescue effort for more than 30 in California boat fire

Four bodies recovered in Coast Guard rescue effort for more than 30 in California boat fire
© Getty Images

Authorities have reportedly confirmed the bodies of four people killed in a boat fire near Santa Cruz Island were recovered during a rescue operation that began in the early morning on Labor Day.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll told The Associated Press the four bodies had injuries consistent with drowning. 

An ongoing mission is continuing to search for survivors, as dozens remain unaccounted for. 

The U.S. Coast Guard in Los Angeles on Monday tweeted that it had launched a rescue mission to assist more than 30 people on a boat near Santa Cruz Island.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Coast Guard later confirmed at 11:12 a.m. EST that 33 people aboard the vessel were still unaccounted for, and five people have been evacuated.

"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," it said.

Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Brian McGrath confirmed some deaths to The Associated Press but could not give an exact number. 

The Ventura County Fire Department told KTLA that 34 people had died in the accident. A spokesperson for the department was not immediately available for comment. 

The Coast Guard in Los Angeles said the group of crew members had been rescued with one minor injury. It also said it is continuing to attempt to rescue remaining passengers. 

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Senior Aaron Bemis confirmed in an interview with CNN that 34 others are believed to have been on the boat. He said he could not confirm fatalities at this time.

The Coast Guard in Los Angeles reported the accident Monday morning, saying a 75-foot boat near Santa Cruz Island had been reported as being on fire.

Bemis said the fire started at 3:14 a.m. local time, while boat passengers were sleeping. 

He said five crew members were able to evacuate before officials were on scene. 

As the news was breaking, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE retweeted information from the Coast Guard and local reports.

CNN reports the boat was a commercial diving vessel called “Conception” that had embarked on a three-day trip and was set to return this afternoon. 

Crew members on top of the boat were able to get off, while others down below were sleeping as the fire started, the outlet reports. 

The boat reportedly was docked between Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties on the Northern Side of the island and had burnt down to the waterline.

Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester told reporters at a news conference at Channel Islands Harbor, where the boat cruise was heading to, that officials are conducting shoreline searches for survivors, AP reports. 

She told reporters the vessel sank in 64-feet water and said its bow is still visible above the waterline.

Updated at 2:56 p.m.