A firefighter works at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, California, the United States, on Sept. 2, 2019. A total of 34 people are unaccounted for and five crew members were rescued after a dive boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island in Southern California early Monday morning, according to a press conference at the Coast Guard Station Channel Islands in Oxnard, California. (Xinhua/Li Ying)
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Eight people have been confirmed dead and four bodies recovered by authorities on Monday, with 26 people still missing, after a dive boat caught fire off the Santa Cruz Island in Southern California, a local official said Monday afternoon.
The four bodies were identified as two adult males and two adult females, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told a press briefing.
"The four victims we have recovered as of now will need to be identified by DNA, and that will take some time," Brown added.
He said rescue and recovery efforts have located four additional victims on the ocean floor near the vessel, and a dive team is working in the water attempting to recover their remains.
Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles confirmed with Xinhua there was no report of Chinese citizens on the boat.
At about 3:30 a.m. local time (1030 GMT), U.S. Coast Guard overheard a mayday call from the boat named Conception, which was moored about 18.3 meters off the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, according to Brown.
Five crew members on board were awake on the deck when the fire broke out. They jumped into the water and were rescued by a boat, according to Brown.
Firefighters were still fighting the blaze when the boat sank in 19.5m-deep water around 7:20 a.m. (1420 GMT).
Divers will keep searching through the night, U.S. Coast Guard Los Angeles-Long Beach Sector Commander Captain Monica Rochester told reporters.
However, as hopes of finding any survivors appear dim, "we all should be prepared to move into the worst outcome," Rochester said.
The boat was on a three-day diving trip when it caught fire early Monday morning. It departed from Santa Barbara at 4 a.m. (1100 GMT) on Saturday for a diving excursion, and was scheduled to return on Tuesday morning, Brown said.