SAN PEDRO, Calif. (FOX 11 LA) - A Coast Guard spokesman says four bodies have been recovered near a boat that caught fire off California coast.
Earlier in the day, the Coast Guard launched several assets from its Los Angeles base in an attempt to rescue people aboard a 75-foot commercial diving boat that burned and sank near Santa Cruz Island on Monday, with multiple casualties feared among the 34 people still missing.
Five crew members "jumped off" the burning ship and were evacuated aboard a Good Samaritan pleasure craft named Grape Escape, according to U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester, who said divers were still engaged in a search-and-rescue operation as of 9 a.m.
One crew member suffered minor injuries, the Coast Guard said.
Petty Officer Mark Barney told FOX 11 News that the Good Samaritan vessel was nearby when the boat was engulfed in fire, and people on that boat were able to assist in rescuing five of those onboard.
A mayday call was heard at 3:15 a.m. by Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach watchstanders of an engulfed 75-foot commercial diving vessel with 38 people aboard, according to a U.S. Coast Guard news statement.
Crews from the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Fire Department and Ventura County Fire Department responded and were fighting the fire when the vessel sank 20 yards off shore in 64 feet of water.
The Ventura County Fire Department reported that firefighters and paramedics responded to a boat fire off the north side of Santa Cruz Island at approximately 3:28 a.m. and was helping the U.S. Coast Guard in support of rescue operations for people aboard a dive boat.
Worried loved ones were coming to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Channel Islands searching for information.
Rochester said the crew was likely able to escape because they were awake and above deck when then fire broke out.
The ship was named Conception. Built in 1981 in Long Beach, it was docked in Santa Barbara. According to the website California Diving News, it has a maximum capacity of 46 people, with 13 double bunks and 20 single bunks.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.