Desperate search for survivors after boat catches fire

Five crew members were able to leap off the boat during the fire; four bodies were recovered from the scene, according to the Coast Guard.
2:35 | 09/03/19

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Transcript for Desperate search for survivors after boat catches fire
of the broadcast tonight. But in the meantime, we're going to move on now to that horror on a scuba diving boat off the coast of southern California. New reporting on this, as well. An explosion and fire. It happened in the middle of the night. Passengers sleeping below deck. The crew above deck jumping into the ocean, injured, but they survived. Their December pras calls for help here tonight. A massive search for the many still missing. Some bodies have been recovered. And tonight, we are learning that there were at least three groups onboard celebrating birthdays. Here's ABC's will Carr. Reporter: Tonight, a desperate search for survivors, after a charter boat with 39 people onworld exploded in the pacific ocean. Mayday, mayday, mayday. I can't breathe. Reporter: The first mayday call came at 3:30 in the morning. All 34 passengers on board asleep below deck. Five crew members jump into the water about 20 yards from shore. The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge, and they jumped off. Reporter: In distress calls, rescuers respond to dire warnings that passengers might be trapped in the burning boat. Roger, are they locked inside the boat? Roger, can you get back onboard and unlock the boat? Unlock the doors so they can get off? Reporter: Then, more explosions. Those hellish flames too hot for firefighters to put out. Completely engulfed boat. We're not going to make an attempt with our pumps to put it out. Main objective is to look for victims. Reporter: A nearby boat swept in and rescued the crew. One injured man screams while getting help. Another crew member limped along, escorted by the coast guard as he ignored questions about what happened. Emotional family members raced to the same center, not knowing if their loved ones were alive or dead. The owners of that rescue boat say the surviving crew members said they did everything they could to help the passengers. The young man was sitting there, across from me and he was and he said that they had celebrated three birthdays that night. Reporter: The diving boat, "The conception," departed on Friday for a labor day weekend scuba trip. The company's website previously posted images of the boat and the bunk room where the passengers slip. Late today, the coast guard recovers four Bolds next to Santa Cruz island. Tonight, the coast guard is on the scene looking for survivors. You can see, there is a thick fog. You can barely make out the shore. That is hampering the search efforts tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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