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Indian-American couple among 34 killed in California boat fire

NRI Pulse Staff & IANS

Atlanta, GA, September 6, 2019: A young Indian-American couple were among at least 34 people killed after a commercial diving boat caught fire and capsized off the coast of California.

Kaustubh Nirmal and Sanjeeri Deopujari, from New York City, were married two and a half years ago, reports LA Times.

Nimral worked in finance and Deopujari was a dentist. Nirmal grew up in Jaipur, and Deopujari was from Nagpur in central India, the Times of India reported.

The Coast Guard said on Monday night that the bodies were found on the ocean floor, the BBC reported.

The fire started in the early hours of Monday when ‘The Conception’ was anchored just metres off the Santa Cruz Island, about 145 km west of Los Angeles.

The Conception is now submerged. The cause of the blaze is yet to be ascertained.

At a news conference, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said 39 people were on board the vessel when the fire broke out.

Brown said that oxygen or propane tanks could have exploded during the fire, but there was no sign this sparked the blaze.

“Nothing in the (mayday) broadcast from the vessel… indicated there was an initial explosion,” he added.

The Coast Guard had said earlier that the crew of the Conception issued the mayday call at around 3.30 a.m. on Monday, to which emergency teams from the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Vessel Assist responded, Efe news reported. 

Five members of the Conception’s six-man crew, who were on deck when the flames broke out, jumped into the water and reached safely on another boat, the Grape Escape.

But the 33 passengers on the scuba-diving excursion were sleeping below deck at the moment the fire started, Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester of the Los Angeles-Long Beach sector told a press conference.

he Coast Guard had said earlier that the crew of the Conception issued a mayday call at around 3.30 a.m. on Monday, to which emergency teams from the Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Vessel Assist responded. 

Five members of the Conception’s six-man crew, who were on deck when the flames broke out, jumped into the water and reached safely on another boat, the Grape Escape.

But the 33 passengers on the scuba-diving excursion were sleeping below deck at the moment the fire started, Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester of the Los Angeles-Long Beach sector told a press conference.

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