Santa Barbara- S County

33 bodies recovered, 1 remains missing after Conception boat fire

FBI Dive Team assisting with recovery efforts

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Authorities have announced the remains of 33 people have been recovered from the wreckage of the dive boat Conception near Santa Cruz Island. One victim remains missing as of Wednesday morning.

The bodies were removed from the wreckage and transferred to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Coroner's Office. The majority of the victims were recovered with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office dive team. 

The United States Coast Guard suspended the search for survivors of the boat fire Tuesday. Divers had been unable to recover several of the bodies due to the positioning of the boat. Teams from across Southern California and the FBI Dive Team are now assisting with the recovery efforts.

Divers are mapping the search area based on water current and the debris field, which is about a half-mile in size. Divers will have to work in dangerous conditions as they navigate the wreckage about 65 feet below water.

The process to identify each victim is currently underway. Victims will need to be identified using DNA and family member samples are currently being collected. 

A special team from the United States Department of Justice provided a DNA analysis tool which was used successfully to identify victims in the Camp Fire.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the process to identify the victims will be "a rapid process," completed quicker than traditional DNA identifying processes. 

The search for the last remaining victim is ongoing and conditions are favorable for divers according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. 

The National Parks Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Long Beach Police Department and the US Coast Guard are all assisting in the search and recovery operations.

The dive boat Conception caught fire about 20 yards off of Santa Cruz Island early Monday morning while moored in Platt's Harbor. 39 people were on the boat's manifest when it took off from the Santa Barbara Harbor. Five people, all crew members, were rescued by a Good Samaritan vessel. 

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

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