Up to 34 People Killed in Boat Fire Near Santa Cruz Island
The bodies of 25 people have been found following a fire on a dive boat off the Californian coast, the US Coast Guard confirmed.
Nine people are still missing after the blaze early on Monday morning.
Five people, thought to be the boat's crew, were rescued. The passengers, all of whom were reportedly sleeping on the lower deck, appear to have been trapped inside and unable to escape the fire. According to local sources, the boat 'burned to the waterline' and has now sunk approximately 20 metres from its mooring on Santa Cruz Island.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Matthew Kroll said on Tuesday that authorities had recovered 20 bodies and discovered five more that cannot yet be recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat.
The boat, which is named Conception, is owned by Santa Barbara-based Truth Aquatics. The 22m (75ft) vessel had apparently departed on Saturday for a three-day voyage around Santa Cruz Island.
The fire began at approximately 3:15 in the morning, local time, according to the Ventura County Fire Department, who said it was on the scene within 15 minutes. The cause of the blaze is as yet unknown.