Officials: Dozens die in worst-case boat fire off California

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a dive boat is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast, Monday morning, Sept. 2, 2019. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
By  | 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Authorities are searching for the nine people who remain missing after a boat fire off the coast of southern California killed dozens who were left sleeping below decks with only one narrow stairway out.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll said Monday that 25 people had died, and the search would continue through the night for nine still unaccounted for.

Authorities opened a family assistance center where counseling was being provided to relatives of those onboard the dive-boat Conception when it sank Monday. None of their names were immediately released.

The missing and dead were among 39 passengers and crew who had departed Santa Barbara's Channel Islands Harbor on Saturday aboard the boat Conception for a Labor Day weekend scuba-diving trip.

___

Associated Press writers John Antczak, John Rogers, Frank Baker and Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles, Stephanie Mullen in San Francisco, Michael R. Blood in Oxnard, California, and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)