Update: 12:16 p.m. Tuesday | The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for survivors following a deadly fire that occurred on the diving vessel Conception, which was anchored off the shore of Santa Cruz Island, early Monday morning. Multiple news agencies reported the USCG was suspending its search after the remains of 20 victims were recovered, with another 14 still missing.
Update: 5:43 p.m. The death toll in the boat fire that occurred off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island rose to eight on Monday afternoon, with vessels from numerous emergency response teams continuing to comb the ocean and shoreline in the area.
Update: 11:23 a.m. The Coast Guard confirmed to the Associated Press that the remains of four victims had been recovered in the aftermath of the boat fire that sank a diving vessel anchored off the shore of Santa Cruz Island early this morning. Another 30 people remain missing.
This report has not been independently verified by The Malibu Times.
Update: 11:18 a.m. A family assistance center is being set up at the Earl Warren Fair Grounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, 93105. The Red Cross center is being relocated to this location.
Family members looking for information about their loved ones are encouraged to call 833.688.5551, a number provided by the United States Coast Guard.
Update: 10:09 a.m. The National Transportation Safety Board announced on social media it would be "sending a go-team" to begin an investigation into the fire.
According to the NTSB website, "the purpose of the Safety Board Go Team is simple and effective: Begin the investigation of a major accident at the accident scene, as quickly as possible, assembling the broad spectrum of technical expertise that is needed to solve complex transportation safety problems."
According to its website, "the National Transportation Safety Board was established in 1967 to conduct independent investigations of all civil aviation accidents in the United States and major accidents in the other modes of transportation. It is not part of the Department of Transportation, nor organizationally affiliated with any of DOT's modal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration. The Safety Board has no regulatory or enforcement powers."
No further information on the investigation was immediately available.
Update: 10:02 a.m. The Red Cross of Central California is opening a reunification center with trained mental health and spiritual care volunteers at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Barbara.
Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the devastating boat fire in Santa Barbara County. The Red Cross is opening a reunification center at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Barbara.— Red Cross Central California (@RedCrossCCR) September 2, 2019
Update: 9:44 a.m. Los Angeles County Sheriff Department is assisting with the rescue efforts, according to a recent social media post from the department. LASD divers and Air Rescue 5 will be aiding in the search for survivors.
#LASD is at the ready to assist in helping find the 34 unaccounted-for people in this devastating boat fire. We hope for the best and brace for the worst. We share in your sorrow. @USCGLosAngeles @CountyVentura @SBCOUNTYFIRE #ChannelIslands https://t.co/1WuhEsf9fN— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 2, 2019
Update: 9:19 a.m. The total number unaccounted for on the boat that caught fire and sank off the shore of Santa Cruz Island early this morning has been revised to 34, according to Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester, who spoke during a press conference Monday morning.
All five crew members on board were rescued from the vessel, some with minor injuries; "they were all awake at the time," Rochester reported.
"[In] the report I received, [passengers] were below decks asleep," the captain added. The Coast Guard was continuing rescue efforts into the day Monday, though Rochester did not provide details.
The fire occurred as the boat was moored on the north side of Santa Cruz Island in Platts Harbor. Details as to what started the fire were not yet available. "The only mayday call was the vessel was engulfed in flames," Rochester described.
Rochester also corrected the name of the good Samaritan vessel that rescued the five crew members. That vessel is called Grape Escape.
8:53 a.m. Monday Dozens of people were reported missing after the United States Coast Guard and multiple local agencies responded to mayday calls of a boat on fire off the coast of Santa Cruz Island early in the morning on Labor Day, Sept. 2. There were 38 people aboard the 75-foot diving vessel.
As of the last update, five had been rescued by a good Samaritan pleasure craft called the Great Escape; 33 remained unaccounted for.
The distress call came in at about 3:15 a.m., according to a press release from the Ventura County Fire Department. According to the release, "crews from the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Vessel Assist responded. The fire department crews were fighting the fire when the vessel sank 20 yards off shore in 64 feet of water."
Santa Cruz, the largest of the islands of Channel Islands National Park, is located about 30 miles offshore from Malibu.
The USCG and partner agencies were scheduled to hold a press conference about the tragedy and continuing rescue efforts on Monday morning.