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34 Missing In Charter Boat Fire Off Ventura County Coast; Officials Confirm Fatalities

Horrible news coming out of California this morning.

The following is from CBS Los Angeles:

Five people were rescued and 34 more remain missing after a blaze broke out on a charter boat early Monday morning directly off Santa Cruz Island, near the Ventura County coastline. Authorities confirmed there are fatalities, although the exact number is unknown.

At 3:15 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard and Ventura County Fire Department crews responded to a mayday call that the “Conception,” a 75-foot-long charter dive boat carrying 39 people, was ablaze 20 yards off Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island, which is located about 30 miles west of the city of Ventura.

All five crew members aboard were rescued by a passing good Samaritan boat called the “Grape Escape,” while 34 passengers remain unaccounted for. The crew members jumped off the burning boat, Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester told reporters at a news briefing from Channel Islands Harbor.

“The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge and they jumped off,” Rochester said.

The passengers were all below deck at the time.

“My understanding is, the report I received, is they (the passengers) were below deck asleep,” Rochester said.

Ventura County Fire crews battled the blaze, but the boat eventually sank in 64 feet of water, about 20 yards off shore. Only the bow remained visible.

You can read more from our friends at CBS Los Angeles.

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