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At least 8 people dead after 2 boats capsize off San Diego beach : NPR


Two boats carrying at least eight people attempted to reach the shores of Black Beach on Saturday night.

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Two boats carrying at least eight people attempted to reach the shores of Black Beach on Saturday night.

Donald Miralle / Getty Images

At least eight people were found dead after authorities discovered two boats capsized near Black’s Beach in San Diego on Saturday, according to local fire officials.

Around 11:30 p.m. local time, authorities received a 911 call informing that a boat carrying eight to 10 people had capsized and the victims were in the water near Torrey Pines. The US Coast Guard told NPR it mistakenly thought there were an estimated 15 people on board.

According to San Diego Fire Department officials, the call was made by a Spanish-speaking woman who was on a separate boat with eight people ashore.

“This is one of the worst maritime smuggling tragedies I can think of,” Rescue Force Director James Gartland said at a news conference on Sunday.

Initial search efforts were hampered by high tides and weather conditions on Saturday night. After six hours of search and rescue efforts, authorities said they had found a total of eight people dead and two capsized small fishing boats known as pangas, said Monica Muñoz, a spokeswoman for the Rescue Department. San Diego Fire, told NPR. Officials also found several life jackets and fuel tanks, Muñoz said.

She added that no survivors were found during the search and that all victims were turned over to the San Diego County Medical Examiner. Searches were continuing on Sunday for at least two other people still missing.

Details about the nationality, age and gender of the passengers on board have not been released except that all the victims were adults.

Officials also don’t have any information on what might have caused the boats to capsize, but Gartland notes that the area where the boats were found is generally dangerous — even during the day.

“You can land on some sand or swim to waist-high, knee-high water and think you’re safe and can get out of the water, but there are very long gullies.” he said. “So if you step into those holes, those eddies will pull you along the shore and back into the sea.”

Along with local firefighters and rescuers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard supported rescue and recovery efforts.

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