Published48 minutes ago
At least eight people have died after two boats capsized off the California coast, emergency services have said.
A search began after the boats got in trouble off Black’s Beach, San Diego.
A 911 caller told emergency services she had been on a boat with eight people that made it to shore, but another vessel, carrying eight to 10 people, had capsized.
San Diego Lifeguard chief James Gartland called it one of the state’s worst maritime smuggling tragedies.
Officials said they did not know the nationalities of the victims but they were all adults.
Emergency responders from several agencies found two overturned boats with bodies spread over an area of 400 yards (366m), and a search operation continued into Sunday morning.
It was unclear what caused the incident but Mr Gartland described the area as “hazardous” due to sand bars and in-shore rip currents.
Rescuers did not find any survivors, but some may have left the beach before the emergency services arrived, he suggested.
San Diego is close to the border between the US and Mexico and the US government has constructed a fence into the sea to the south of the city to deter migrants.
Eric Lavergne, a US Border Patrol official in San Diego, told Reuters this was one of a few hundred migrant smuggling events recorded in the area over the past five months – which is similar to the rate in recent years.
It comes as the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is due to be in San Diego for the Aukus summit between the US, UK and Australia.
He has recently announced a policy aimed at stopping people from coming to the UK on small boats across the English Channel.
In 2021, four people died and two dozen were injured when a boat go into trouble off the coast of San Diego.