Update: Death toll rises in California boat fire, nine still missing
By The Associated Press
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says, "You couldn't ask for a worse situation" when fire engulfed a dive-boat near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday.
At least 25 people are confirmed dead and nine others are still missing.
The Coast Guard says five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank in about 60 feet of water.
Five crew members sleeping on the top deck jumped off and took a dinghy to safety.
Authorities say divers are working in pairs at the site where the diving boat sank.
Commander Jay Donovan of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that the divers from multiple law enforcement agencies are using their hands because of limited visibility and search in grids as they look for nine people who are still missing.
There were 39 people aboard the Conception when it caught fire before dawn Monday as recreational scuba divers slept in bunks below deck.
The island is about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from Los Angeles. One of the crew suffered minor injuries.
The Coast Guard has helicopters, small boats, and a patrol cutter in the area for a search-and-rescue operation.
© WLNE-TV/ Associated Press, ABC6 2019