L.A.-based Coast Guard helping rescue effort off Channel Islands

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SAN PEDRO (CNS) – The U.S. Coast Guard has launched several assets from its Los Angeles base in an attempt to rescue people aboard a 75-foot commercial diving boat that burned and sank near Santa Cruz Island today, with multiple casualties feared among 33 people still missing.

Five crew members were evacuated aboard a good Samaritan pleasure craft named Great Escape. One crew member suffered minor injuries, the Coast Guard said.

A mayday call was heard at 3:15 a.m. by Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach watchstanders of an engulfed 75-foot commercial diving vessel with 38 people aboard, according to a U.S. Coast Guard news statement.

Crews from the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Fire Department and Ventura County Fire Department responded and were fighting the fire when the vessel sank 20 yards off shore in 64 feet of water.

“The vessel currently has a portion of the bow sticking out of the water,” the statement read.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported that firefighters and paramedics responded to a boat fire off the north side of Santa Cruz Island at approximately 3:28 a.m. and was helping the U.S. Coast Guard in support of rescue operations for people aboard a dive boat.

Worried loved ones were coming to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Channel Islands searching for information, where officials scheduled a 9 a.m. news conference.

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