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Final Victim of Dive Boat Disaster Recovered

Coast Guard issues new safety recommendations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2019 7:05 AM CDT
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In this Sept. 2, 2019 photo, provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a dive boat is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast.   (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, File)
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(Newser) – The body of the only victim still missing after the Labor Day diving boat disaster was recovered by divers Wednesday, authorities say. The bodies of 33 other victims who died in the fire off California's Santa Cruz Island were recovered earlier. "The Conception Incident Unified Command is relieved to report that search and recovery efforts today were successful in locating the last missing victim," the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office tweeted. "DNA testing is still being conducted to confirm identities of 7 of the 34 victims recovered." Authorities say the 21 women and 13 men apparently died of smoke inhalation. NBC reports that the Coast Guard announced Wednesday that a formal Marine Board of Investigation has been convened.

The four-member panel will look into "pre-accident historical events, the regulatory compliance of the Conception, crew member duties and qualifications, weather conditions and reporting, safety and firefighting equipment, and Coast Guard oversight," the Coast Guard says. Their investigation is expected to take up to a year. The cause of the fire is still unclear, but the Coast Guard has already issued new safety recommendations, including limiting the use of power strips and the unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries, the AP reports. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected Thursday. (The FBI searched the offices of the dive boat's owner Sunday.)

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