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25 bodies found after California boat fire

Updated: 2019-09-03 09:10
A 75-foot (23-meter) vessel burns during a rescue operation off Santa Cruz Island, California, Sept 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

SANTA BARBARA, Calif — A middle-of-the-night fire swept a boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving at least 25 dead and nine others missing.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Matthew Kroll said Monday night that 25 people had died. Five of six crew members on the Conception escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat they steered to a nearby vessel.

Rescuers initially recovered four bodies about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles just off Santa Cruz Island, and 16 others were pulled from the water later in the day. The Coast Guard says five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank about 20 yards (18 meters) from shore.

In this photo released by the Ventura County Fire Department on Sept 2, 2019, firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire on a boat off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, California. [Photo/VCG]

Authorities will search for the nine people still unaccounted for through the night.

"We should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome," Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference.

The four bodies recovered initially had injuries consistent with drowning, Kroll said.

It wasn't immediately clear when the bodies on the ocean floor might be retrieved or when divers could search the boat for others.

AP

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