Multiple people were dead and dozens were unaccounted for after a diving boat caught fire Monday morning off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, north of Los Angeles, Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials said.

The U.S. Coast guard would not confirm the deaths, but said crews were searching for 34 people who had not yet been rescued from the blaze on the 75-foot vessel.

Five crew members had been rescued from the boat, a Coast Guard petty officer told NBC Los Angeles. One suffered a minor injury.

Firefighters also rushed to the scene of the dive boat at about 3.28 a.m., the Ventura County Fire Department said in a tweet.


"Multiple rescue assets" were dispatched to help "people in distress" and were joined by rescuers from local agencies, the Coast Guard added.

Santa Cruz Island is part of the Channel Islands National Park, off the coast of Ventura. Officials said the area has strong currents, and the waters in the part of the Pacific Ocean are cold even in late summer.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for details.