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25 confirmed dead in California boat fire, at least 9 are still missing


The passengers were apparently sleeping below deck when the fire broke out

So far 25 people have been confirmed to have died on Monday in a fire aboard a Californian dive boat, according to a CNN report. Nine others are still missing, and only five — all crew members — survived.

What happened?

The Conception, staffed by six crew members and operated by Truth Aquatics Inc., had taken 33 passengers to scuba dive along the coast of southern California near Santa Barbara.

While it's still unclear what caused it, the fire started at 3:14 a.m. local time (6:14 a.m. ET) on Monday morning. A harrowing transcript from a 911 call reveals that while most of the crew was able to escape, the passengers were trapped. Many if not all of them are thought to have been sleeping below deck at the time.

"And there's 33 people on board the vessel that's on fire, they can't get off?" the dispatcher said, according to CNN. "Roger, are they locked inside the boat? ... Roger, can you get back on board and unlock the boat, unlock the door so they can get off? ... Roger, you don't have any firefighting gear at all? No fire extinguishers or anything?"

The boat sank four hours later. Rescuers have reportedly recovered 20 bodies so far, while an additional five have been found but have not yet been recovered.

What about the rescue?

Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason told CNN that rescuers had not given up on finding survivors.

"We're still holding hope that someone may have swum to shore," he said. "When they anchor overnight, they're pretty close to shore. We have to hope, but we plan for worst-case scenario."

According to The Associated Press, the boat was following U.S. Coast Guard regulations before the fire broke out and had been inspected by the Coast Guard in February. The Los Angeles Times reported that the ship did have an escape hatch and that the passengers would have had access to fire extinguishers.

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