20 bodies recovered, 14 missing in California dive boat fire
A total of 20 bodies have been recovered and 14 others are still missing as of Tuesday morning after a tragic boat fire early Monday off the Santa Cruz Island in Southern California, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told a press briefing, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
He said the remains of the 20 victims, 11 female and 9 male, have been identified.
In addition, rescue divers saw the bodies of four to six victims in the wreckage, but they can not be recovered before nightfall due to the positioning of the boat, Brown said.
"Today efforts will be made to stabilize the boat, so that divers can safely enter it, search and recover additional victims," he said.
No additional survivors have been found in the tragic accident, he said. Five crew members on board were rescued on Monday and were transported to Ventura Harbor. At the time of the accident, 39 people were on board.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) suspended search efforts as of 9:40 a.m. Tuesday pending further development, said Monica Rochester, USCG Los Angeles-Long Beach sector commander.
"It is never an easy decision to suspend search efforts," she said. "We know this is a very difficult time for families and friends of the victims."
Asked if the called-off search was an indication that the Coast Guard believed all persons on the boat but the five crew members who escaped were dead, Rochester said: "That would be a correct assumption."
Coast Guard crews have conducted seven missions including helicopter cruises as far as approximately 160 miles from the site in the search for survivors, Rochester said.
The process of identifying the victims and notifying their families is underway, according to Brown.