33 missing after boat catches fire off coast of California

The dive boat where a fire broke out before dawn Monday morning was on a Labor Day weekend cruise

The Coast Guard says 33 people are missing after a fire broke out aboard a dive boat off the coast of Southern California.

Earlier, authorities said they were searching for 34.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll of the U.S. Coast Guard said five crewmembers sleeping on the top deck of the 75-foot (20-meter) commercial scuba diving vessel were rescued. A statement by the agency says they were evacuated aboard a passing good Samaritan pleasure craft. One of the crew suffered minor injuries.

The Coast Guard statement says fire department crews were fighting the flames when the vessel sank 20 yards (18 metres) off shore in 64 feet (19.5 metres) of water. A portion of the bow is sticking out of the water.

The dive boat where a fire broke out before dawn Monday morning was on a Labor Day weekend cruise taking divers to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

The vessel Conception was operated by Santa Barbara-based Worldwide Diving Adventures, which says on its website it has been operating such expeditions since 1972.

This weekend trip had departed at 4 a.m. Saturday with plans to return at 5 p.m. Monday.

It was outfitted with dozens of small berths for people to sleep in overnight.

The trip promised multiple opportunities to see colorful coral and a variety of marine life.

The Associated Press

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