The bodies of all but one of the 34 people killed in a scuba diving boat fire off the Californian coast have been recovered by divers.
The charred wreckage of the Conception sank in the blaze and is now 60ft (18 metres) below the water’s surface.
Monday’s early morning fire tore through the boat, trapping dozens of people who were sleeping below deck, including reportedly one of the crew members.
Image: The disaster happened early on Monday. Pic: SBCFireInfo
The boat’s captain and four other crew were above deck when the inferno off Santa Cruz Island broke out and managed to escape in an inflatable boat.
Divers were still actively searching for the remains of one person as an investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.
Image: Three sisters are believed to have died in the fire alongside their father and stepmother
Among those feared dead were a family-of-five who were celebrating a birthday.
Susana Rosas, of Stockton, posted on Facebook that her three daughters, their father and his wife were on board the 75ft (22 metre) Conception when it sank.
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She wrote: “It is with a broken heart… 3 of our daughters were on this boat. As of now they are still missing.
“My #1, Evanmichel Solano Quitasol, my #3, NicoleStorm Quitasol and my #4, Angela Rose Quitasol. My girls’ dad Michel Storm Quitasol and step mom were also on the boat.
“We are getting the latest information from the media. The authorities do not have much to say to us. Thank you to all of you for your support prayers and good wishes.”
Another person on the boat was marine biologist and veteran diver Kristy Finstad, 41, who was identified in a Facebook post by her brother, Brett Harmeling.
Ms Finstad was co-owner of Worldwide Diving Adventures in Santa Cruz, which chartered the boat. She was leading a scuba tour.
Mr Harmeling wrote: “Thank you all for your unconditional love and support during this incredibly tragic time. My family and I truly appreciate it. No final word on my sister Kristy; however, it is likely she has transitioned to be with the good Lord.”
Those on board also included students from Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, which educates children aged 12-18.
Scott Chan, a physics teacher at American High School in Fremont, also was on the boat with his daughter.
Fremont Unified School District said in a statement Mr Chan taught physics classes for the past three years.
It said: “His students knew him to be an innovative and inspiring teacher who developed a passion for physics among his students. His loss is a tremendous tragedy for our school district.”
Image: 34 people were killed in the tragedy
The Conception was around 59ft (18 metres) offshore when it sank as crew members tried to extinguish the fire, the Coast Guard said.
It had left at 4am on Saturday for a three-day diving trip and was scheduled to return at 5pm on Monday.
The vessel was scheduled to visit San Miguel, a rarely visited island with a variety of interesting sea life including anemones, crabs and nudibranchs.
It was operated by Worldwide Diving Adventures, a respected company that says on its website it has been taking divers on such expeditions since 1972.
Source : Sky News