LOS ANGELES — The Coast Guard says four bodies have been recovered near a dive boat that caught fire off the California coast with dozens of people aboard.
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll says the bodies recovered Monday morning had injuries consistent with drowning.
Searchers are continuing to look for 29 other people who were aboard the vessel Conception, which burned while anchored off Santa Cruz Island.
Five crew members were awake when the fire broke out and were able to jump into the water. They were rescued by a passing pleasure craft.
The Coast Guard statement says fire department crews were fighting the flames when the vessel sank 20 yards off shore in 64 feetof water. A portion of the bow is sticking out of the water.
The Coast Guard has helicopters, small boats and a patrol cutter in the area for a search-and-rescue operation off of Santa Cruz Island.
Authorities have given fluctuating information about the number of people aboard the vessel. The Coast Guard now says a sixth crew member who was on the manifest was actually not aboard.
CBS News L.A. confirmed the boat belongs to Truth Aquatics, a boat rental service based out of Santa Barbara. According to its website, the boat has a maximum capacity of 46 people.
The vessel reportedly caught fire about 20 yards off shore. It was fully engulfed when the coast guard arrived. It later sank in about 65 feet of water.
The boat owner would not comment on the incident when reached by CBS.
“They’re a great company to dive with,” said experienced diver and CBS employee Darla Fletcher, who has taken several diving trips with Truth Aquatics. “They take care of you, all their crew members are always looking out for you. They are just an amazing group of people.”
The fire was first reported before 3:30 a.m. Pacific time Monday.
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