Los Angeles (AP) - Off the coast of the state of California, a boat with dozens of people on board has caught fire. Five inmates, who are said to be members of the crew, have been rescued, according to the Coast Guard.

They had found themselves on the deck of the boat in the early morning rescue operation, CNN reported. The search for additional survivors continued in the morning.

On board the ship had been another 34 passengers, the station said, citing authorities in the district of Santa Barbara. It is feared that many were surprised by the fire in the night. They slept below deck, said Aaron Bemis of the Coast Guard in the CNN interview. The passengers were probably trapped by the fire. The Coast Guard would continue to search for possible survivors in the waters.

Numerous rescue and fire boats had rushed to the accident site. Photos showed the hatchback completely surrounded by flames. It had leaked on Saturday for a three-day diving trip. It should return to the coast of California on Monday. The emergency had come during the night of Monday near the island of Santa Cruz. The archipelago off Santa Barbara is a popular destination for divers and sailors.

Ventura County authorities on Twitter

Report CNN