US: 4 dead in smuggling vessel accident in San Diego

Nearly 20 people sent to hospitals after sustaining wide range of injuries, says official.

US: 4 dead in smuggling vessel accident in San Diego

Four people were killed and nearly two dozen people were sent to hospitals with a wide range of injuries after a suspected smuggling vessel overturned off the coast of San Diego on Sunday morning, according to an official.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, US Coast Guard and other local agencies responded to reports of an overturned vessel on Sunday around 10.27 a.m. (1727 GMT).

When first responders arrived at the scene, the 40-foot cabin cruiser was broken apart, lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero told reporters after the incident.

There were 30 people on board and three announced dead, Romero said. He noted that most of the people made it to shore on their own, but six or seven people were rescued from the water after a rip current pulled them out to sea.

He added that the boat was overcrowded.

"Conditions were pretty rough – 5-6 feet of surf, windy, cold, the water's around 60 degrees so you get hypothermic pretty quickly," Romero said.

The cause of the incident still remains unclear.