The United States Coast Guard is searching for 33 people after a boat caught fire north of Santa Cruz Island in Southern California early Monday morning, the United States Coast Guard said in a statement.
Five others were rescued and the boat sank 20 yards offshore as fire department crews were fighting the blaze, according to the statement.
The boat was a 75-foot scuba diving vessel named “Conception,” according to Petty Officer Mark Barney, a Coast Guard spokesman. A boat of that length and with that name had been scheduled for a three-day scuba diving trip in the area beginning on Saturday, according to the website of Truth Aquatics, a Santa Barbara tour operator.
Officer Barney said that the boat was carrying six crew members and 32 passengers. He did not say whether the five individuals rescued were crew or passengers. (An official with the Ventura County Fire Department previously told The New York Times that 34 people were missing and five were rescued.)
The Coast Guard picked up a mayday call related to the fire at about 3:15 a.m. and has since dispatched two helicopter crews and two boats to the scene, where they were met by partner law enforcement agencies, according to Officer Barney. First responders were met with dense fog at the scene, according to Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol Officer Nathan Alldredge.
Santa Cruz Island, located in Santa Barbara County, is one of five islands in Channel Islands National Park, according to the website for National Park Service, which owns and manages about a quarter of the island. The other three-quarters is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. California’s largest island at about 96 square miles, Santa Cruz Island is about 20 miles from Ventura, the website said.