2nd UPDATE 11 PM Monday: A Coast Guard rep said Monday night that 25 people had died in the fire. Five of six crew members escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat. Nine people who were on board the Conception remain unaccounted for.
UPDATED AT 4:25 PM PT Monday: Four bodies have been recovered and four others were spotted on the ocean floor after a commercial diving boat caught fire near Santa Cruz Island, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a Monday evening news conference. More than two dozen remain missing off the California coast.
A total of 39 people were on the boat when the fire broke out, the USCG said. Of that number, six were crew and 33 were passengers. Five of the crew members escaped and one is among the missing.
The boat is currently resting in 60 to 62 feet of water. While the USCG continues to search for victims, they warned: “Be prepared for the worst outcome.”
Fire broke out on board a diving boat early Monday morning and it is now submerged. The boat, known as the Conception, is commonly used for chartered trips in the Channel Islands National Park.
The Ventura County Fire Department said that it “responded to boat fire off the north side of Santa Cruz Island at approximately 3:28am… helping support rescue operations for people aboard a dive boat.”
Coastguard senior official Aaron Bemis told CNN that the amount of fuel on the boat may be causing the fire to reignite. “It’s consistently being put out and re-flashing,” he said.