Four bodies found, dozens missing after boat sinks off Santa Cruz Island in California - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان

Four bodies found, dozens missing after boat sinks off Santa Cruz Island in California

Four bodies found, dozens missing after boat sinks off Santa Cruz Island in California

OXNARD, Calif. – A commercial diving boat with dozens of passengers aboard sank Monday after it caught fire before dawn near Santa Barbara, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Four bodies were later recovered near the boat. Dozens of people were reported missing after five crew members of the boat Conception were rescued near Santa Cruz Island, about 30 miles off Santa Barbara. Two of those rescued sustained leg injuries.The four bodies found had injuries consistent with drowning, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll. About 34 people were asleep on the bottom deck when the fire began.“At this point, it is still an active search until we can get through the likelihood that there could be survivors who got overboard with a flotation device,” said Kroll.CLOSE
Several people are dead and dozens are unaccounted for after a diving boat caught on fire near Santa Barbara, California.
USA TODAYCapt. Monica Rochester of the U.S. Coast Guard said in a Monday press conference at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California, that the five individuals who were rescued were sleeping on the top deck of the boat when they woke up. They jumped off and were rescued by a Good Samaritan boat called the Grape Escape.United States Coast Guard members transfer a body at the Santa Barbara Harbor on Sept. 2, 2019.  (Photo: Harrison Hill, USA TODAY)Bob Hansen, owner of the Grape Escape, said he and his wife were sleeping when they were awoken by the five crew members banging on the side of their boat from their lifeboat.“The flames are probably 30 feet high,” Hansen told USA TODAY of the boat fire. “This is probably one of those things you cannot unsee. It’s very vivid. I can see that thing burning and it’s all the way, right down almost to the water. It was fast.”The crew members were in shock and several were in tears, Hansen said. “Nothing can prepare you for that,” he said. “For myself, it was like, ‘I can’t do anything here. I’m freaking helpless.’ It’s like an airplane. What are you going to do after it’s already hit the ground?’’Around 3:15 a.m., the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach said a mayday call was overheard via channel 16, according to Coast Guard officials. The “garbled” call was for “an engulfed 75-foot commercial diving vessel with 38 people aboard.”Rochester said that call indicated the boat was already fully ablaze.The Coast Guard, Hansen said, suggested that a couple of the crew members return with the lifeboat to look for survivors. They couldn’t find any, Hansen said.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideConception was scheduled for a three-day trip to San Miguel Island off the Santa Barbara coast, according to local diving operator Truth Aquatics, which operates the boat. According to Truth Aquatics’ schedule, the boat departed at about 4 a.m. Saturday and was expected to return Monday evening.The excursion, according to the company’s website, promised an island “loaded with color” and filled with “pristine shallow reefs hosting an incredibly diverse collection of sea life.”The vessel sank 20 yards offshore as fire crews were fighting the blaze, according to a statement by the U.S. Coast Guard. Two fire boats were on the scene and were able to keep the fire under control, said Capt. Paul Amaral, owner of TowBoat US Ventura & Channel Islands.A fire on a boat off the north side of Santa Cruz Island early Monday morning led to the deaths of multiple people, according to initial reports. (Photo: Ventura County Fire Department)”We assisted in getting the boat away from the island,” he said. “What typically happens with a boat fire is the combination of the water from burned hoses, plus the water they’re using to fight the fire, tends to overwhelm the vessel, and this was a wooden boat.”Amaral said it was his first time assisting with so many deaths at sea.”Assisting in recovering the bodies was surreal,” he said.News media and family members converged Monday morning at the Coast Guard station at Channel Islands Harbor. Among those waiting was James Kohls, brother of a galley cook and deck hand on the Conception. He said he hadn’t heard from his brother, Mike Kohls, or about his fate, but that the Coast Guard “was going to let me know whether he was one of the survivors that got off.”He said the situation was “very surreal at the moment” and that “anytime you’re on the ocean, it’s a risk.”The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate the incident.An official at Island Packers Cruises, which operates a daily boat shuttle from nearby Ventura and Oxnard, California, to the Channel Islands, said the local boating community was “incredibly heartbroken” by the boat fire.”Any loss in the community is a loss for us all,” said Andrea Mills, Island Packers’ education coordinator. “The boating community locally is very tight knit.She said she knew Truth Aquatics’ staff to be “very professional and passionate about taking people out there to enjoy” the islands. Former Truth Aquatics passengers said they had never experienced a problem with the boat company.Scientist Jacek Jasinski, 50, said he had a number of scuba diving training certificates, including advanced diver, altitude diving and search-and-rescue, with more than 700 dives logged. He said around 100 to 120 of those dives have been with Truth Aquatics.He called the company “a very known and reputable operator in the scuba diving world.” “They were our favorite dive operators,” he said.Attorney Joseph Catmull, 59, last dived with Truth Aquatics in 2006. He said the “boats are probably the nicest in Southern California, and always had a top crew.”AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideCatmull said there is only one stairway on the passenger deck for divers to enter and exit from. “So it isn’t hard to imagine that a fire could have caused tragedy,” he said.Fires are a rare cause of death on recreational boating vehicles such as Conception. From 2009 to 2018, 2,534 accidents and 37 deaths — less than 1% of fatalities — were attributed to fires aboard recreational boating vessels, according to U.S. Coast Guard data.”Our hearts are with the families and loved ones affected by this tragic incident,” tweeted California Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday morning. “As we wait to hear more, we are eternally grateful for our heroic first responders that are on site — working to ensure every individual is found.Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calf., tweeted that she was heartbroken over news of the incident. She also sent thoughts out to those involved and families impacted.”I’m grateful for the heroic first responders and rescuers who are working tirelessly on the scene to ensure every person is found,” she tweeted. At Santa Barbara Harbor Monday afternoon, people dined outdoor at restaurants, licked ice cream as they walked along the water or rode group bikes. But when Coast Guard officials pulled out two body bags to bring to emergency medical personnel, a few tourists and locals stopped to watch.Santa Barbara resident Mynor Chavez, 29, said he has ridden on similar boats, like many locals, and has never heard of a such a tragedy.”It could have been anyone of us,” he said while looking out at the harbor.Jennifer Small, a spokeswoman from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, said dive boats are regulated by the Coast Guard and are required to follow “the same safety regulations and requirements” as other vessels.”When on board a dive boat, however, you’re more likely to be surrounded by other passengers and crew who have additional safety training in first aid, CPR, scuba diving emergencies, along with specialized medical response kits and oxygen kits,” she said.The Truth Aquatics website specifies that “each person prints his or her name on the boat manifest upon arrival, and that “it is the individual’s responsibility to be sure everyone in the party is onboard” before each departure.BREAKING NEWS: The Coast Guard has launched multiple rescue assets along with assets from local agencies to assist more than 30 people in distress on a 75ft boat near Santa Cruz Island. More details will be available later as this operation continues.— USCG Los Angeles (@USCGLosAngeles) September 2, 2019Charles Russell, 57, a diving instructor who has been on Conception multiple times, said such informal procedures are standard across the industry, adding that crew members usually “count before and after each dive.”The boat had a maximum bunk capacity for 46 people — with 13 double bunks and 20 single bunks. Rafts and life jackets were available for 110 people, as well as a full first aid kit and oxygen tanks. The boat was generally docked at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.“The vessel has been in full compliance,” Rochester said during the press conference when asked if the operator had a history of violations.Coast Guard records show inspections conducted last February and in August 2018 found no deficiencies. Earlier inspections found some safety violations related to fire safety.A 2016 inspection resulted in owners replacing the heat detector in the galley and one in 2014 cited a leaky fire hose. Records show all safety violations from the last five years were quickly addressed by the boat’s owners.The boat was launched in 1981 and was built in Long Beach, according to Truth Aquatics’ website.The Conception is one of a fleet of three operated by Truth Aquatics, along with the company’s first vessel Truth and the Vision, which was added in 1985.Contributing: Jorge Ortiz, Kristin Lam, Chris Woodyard and Steve Reilly, USA TODAY; Cheri Carlson, Gretchen Wenner and Tom Kisken, The Ventura County Star; The Associated PressRead or Share this story:
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