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20 bodies recovered in California dive boat fire

(Xinhua)    08:56, September 04, 2019

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- A total of 20 bodies have been recovered 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.

He said the 20 victims have been identified as 11 female and 9 male remains.

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.

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 family and friends of the victims."

The process of identifying the victims and notifying their families is underway, according to Brown.

"Family assistance and call centers today received over 100 calls from families and friends who believed their loved ones were on board the boat," he said.

Investigators are comparing the information from the callers with the vessel's passenger list, he said.

Since many of the victims recovered will need to be identified through DNA analysis, investigators will work with family members of the victims to collect DNA samples for comparison purposes, Brown said.

There were 39 people on board the ship at the time of the accident, and 14 people are still missing.

The families of four missing victims have not been connected with investigators, according to Brown.

"Today we will begin the process of mapping DNA profiles of the 20 victims we recovered so far, and they will be compared with family samples," he said. Enditem

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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