Suspected smuggling boat capsizes near San Diego, killing 3 and injuring 27

Four people were killed and dozens of others hospitalized after an overcrowded boat capsized and broke off the coast of San Diego, per a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard late Sunday.

Driving the news: Authorities believe the 40-foot cabin cruiser was being used in a “suspected human smuggling operation,” AP notes.

  • “Twenty-nine people have reportedly been accounted for, consisting of twenty-four people alive, four people declared deceased by local emergency medical services personnel and one person who was last reported to be in critical condition,” per the Coast Guard statement.
  • Authorities said earlier that 27 people were hospitalized following the capsizing.

The big picture: State parks workers found people in distress in the waters on Sunday morning. Lifeguards helped pull 25 people onto shore, said Jose Ysea, a spokesman with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

  • The survivors were taken to local hospitals for “various degrees” of injury, including hypothermia.
  • The Coast Guard said the search would continue into the night.

What they’re saying: Jeff Stephenson, a supervising agent with U.S. Border Patrol, said “every indication from our perspective was this was a smuggling vessel,” per AP.

  • He said authorities had yet to confirm the nationality of those on board.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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