Criminal investigation underway

Criminal investigation underway

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the dive boat fire that killed 34 people off the Southern California coast.

The Department of Justice have confirmed it was participating in the joint investigation. This comes after agents searched the offices of the boat’s owner, Truth Aquatics, in Santa Barbara on Sunday.

33 holidaymaking scuba divers and one crew member were confirmed dead after the 75-foot boat in which they were sleeping caught fire in the middle of the night near Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

Four crew members and the boat’s captain, who were on deck, managed to escape the blaze. But all of the 33 tourists were asleep on the bottom deck, were trapped because there was no emergency escape hatch on the vessel.

US coastguards recovered 22 bodies from the sea nearby and it is assumed the bodies of the other victims had either sunk deep in the sea or were trapped in the wreckage of the boat.