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8 dead after 2 suspected smuggling boats crashed off San Diego coast, officials say


Eight people have died after two boats crashed off the coast of San Diego on Saturday night, San Diego Fire and Rescue officials said Sunday.

Authorities said they suspected the ships were involved in smuggling.

The panga boats capsized around 11:30 p.m., officials said, adding that a passenger from another boat that had come to the shore of Black’s Beach with 15 people on board had called 911 to report that victims of the other boat were in the water.

Officials from the San Diego Fire and Police Departments, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and state and local lifeguards were among those who responded to the scene.

The dispatcher used GPS information from the caller’s phone to determine the location of the capsized boat, which authorities said was about half a mile north of Black Gold Road in La Jolla.

The first group of lifeguards waded into the waters on foot as high tide prevented access to the beach, according to information shared by San Diego Fire and Rescue. A few hundred yards away they found lifeless bodies on a patch of dry sand, two overturned panga boats and several life jackets and barrels of fuel, officials said.

Rescuers transported the seven bodies they initially found in the water to dry sand, and Customs and Border Protection air and sea operations officers found the eighth body, officials said.

The search continued Sunday morning, officials said.

Further information, including the age of the victims and the provenance of the boats, was not immediately available.

Officials are expected to provide reporters with more details at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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