Dozens missing in California boat fire; 5 rescued: U.S. Coast Guard

03 Septembre, 2019, 13:09 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Dozens missing in California boat fire; 5 rescued: U.S. Coast Guard

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's coroner office is preparing for the possibility of a mass casualty incident, said Erik Raney, public information officer with the coroner's office.

Brown said he still holds some hope.

"This is probably the worst case scenario you could possibly have", said Brown.

Local news outlet KTLA earlier reported that 34 people were dead after the blaze broke out on the 75-foot boat near Platts Harbor. The authorities haven't even actually officially briefed the media yet, I think because it happened so early in the morning, and it's still an active rescue operation or they - you know, there are also reports of potential casualties.

Dispatch: "Roger, is this the captain of the Conception?". They desperately are trying to get information about missing loved ones. Roger, are they locked inside the boat?.

The dispatcher asked, "Can you get back onboard and unlock the boat?" "No fire extinguishers or anything?" Then he saw another boat in the distance, fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters are having difficulties snuffing out the fire, Bemis said, because each time it's extinguished, it flares back up - perhaps because of the fuel on board.

"We are now still in the response phase", Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference on Monday morning.

Earlier, authorities said they were searching for 34.

It's not clear how the blaze started, and Brown stated that the initial emergency call did not refer to an explosion.

The sheriff stated that there is an investigation underway to determine if there was any criminal activity involved - though he said "we have no reason to suspect that there was at this point".

James Kohls was in Oxnard waiting to learn the fate of his brother, Mike Kohls, the gallery cook and a deckhand on the Conception.

A fire-fighter attempting to put the fire out
Firefighters were unable to board the vessel as the flames had already taken hold

"It's very surreal at the moment", he told reporters. "I wouldn't hesitate at all to go on one again".

Bemis could not confirm any fatalities, he said.

U.S. Representative Julia Brownley, a Democrat whose district includes Ventura County, called the fire "devastating".

Foggy conditions are complicating the rescue operation, he said.

She said the search efforts would continue into Tuesday morning, but that "we should all be prepared [for] the worst outcome".

According to Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester, crew members jumped off the burning boat. The hull is inverted.

The Ventura County Fire Department tweeted photos of the diving boat on fire.

The boat, launched in 1981, was chartered by Worldwide Diving Adventures - a company that has been taking divers on expeditions since the 1970s and accommodating "explorers, honeymooners, families and teams", according to its website.

Butts said six or eight people were loading diving gear onto the boat as they chatted among themselves.

The Conception was on the final day of a Labor Day weekend cruise when the fire erupted and a mayday call was made.

Conception owners Truth Aquatics told CNN last night: 'We don't have any comment'.

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