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California: At least 25 dead after boat fire in Santa Cruz Island



SANTA BARBARA, California. A fire broke out in a diving boat anchored near an island off the Southern California shore early Monday, leaving at least 8 people dead and 26 others missing after the dive boat sank.

“4 people were recovered about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles in hours and all had injuries consistent with drowning,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll.

The disaster occurred aboard the boat “Conception” sometime around 3:30 a.m. near Santa Cruz Island, is a part of a string wind-swept island that forms ‘Channel Islands National Park’ in the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles.

Monica Rochester, a Coast Guard official, said in a report, “Right now they’re conducting shoreline searches for any survivors.”

Via Associated Press

The Coast Guard said the boat was thought to have carry 38 people, including five or six crew members who jumped soon after the fire started into an inflatable boat.

Rochester said, “The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge and they jumped off.” Adding the other passengers reported missing were asleep below the vessel

Two had minor wounds, Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said.

The crew members who jumping from the boat were rescued by a Samaritan vessel called “The Grape Escape” that was anchored nearby.

Shirley Hansen was on a fishing trip said two of the crew members goes back to the vessel looking for survivors but they found no one else. Asked at a news convention if the crew tried to help others aboard, Rochester told reporters, “I don’t have any additional information.”

A Coast Guard helicopter and a fireboat were in place when he arrived around 5:15 a.m. They do first searched the water and shoreline, then went back to the Conception, which was adrift and going aground.

“When we looked out, the other vessel was totally swigged in flames, from stem to stern,” Hansen said, rating it was no more than 100 yards (91 meters) from his craft. “I can see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. There were those explosions every few beats. You cannot prepare yourself for that. It was terrible. Adding “The fire was too massive, there was absolutely nothing we could do it.”

Via Associated Press

The vessel Conception  is based in Santa Barbara Harbor, was owned by “Truth Aquatics.” Dave Reid he owner of an underwater camera manufacturing business with his wife, Terry Schuller, they have traveled before on the boat ‘conception’ and two other vessels in Truth Aquatics navy, said he rating these three boats among the best and safest dive-boats around.

“When you see the boats they are always cleanly,” he said. “I wouldn’t scruple at all to go on one more again. Of all the boat company, that would be one of the ones I wouldn’t consider this would happen to.”

Truth Aquatics website reports the boat, who launched in 1981, has rafts and life jackets can use by 110 passengers and exits on the port, starboard, and bow that supply “easy water entry.” It was specifically for divers.

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