The United States Coast Guard has confirmed that four bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of a charter boat that became engulfed in flames on Monday morning before sinking, the BBC reports.
More than two dozen people remain unaccounted for.
Authorities confirmed earlier Monday that five surviving crew members were awake when the fire broke out, and jumped off the boat, which was reportedly docked about 20 yards from the coast, near Santa Cruz Island.
The crew members were then aided by what Coast Guard officials described to KTLA as Good Samaritans who were traveling nearby on a pleasure boat.
The 34 passengers are believed to have been below deck when the fire broke out at around 3 a.m. on Monday morning. As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Ventura County Fire Department responded to a mayday call about the boat at about 3: 15 a.m., arriving to the scene before 3:30 a.m.
The VCFD told KTLA that 34 passengers are believed to have died, but the Coast Guard refused to confirm the number of fatalities, noting that there are ongoing searches for others who may have escaped the boat and swam to rocks.
“Right now, they’re conducting shoreline searches for any available survivors ,” Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester said at a news conference on Monday.
Coast Guard officials confirmed that 75-foot vessel sank into about 65 feet of water after it caught fire.
Authorities have not yet commented on a possible cause of the blaze.
CNN reports that the National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to California to investigate the fire.
CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.
[Feature image: Ventura County Fire Department via AP]