Eight people are dead after two boats crashed off the San Diego coastline late Saturday night, officials from San Diego Fire and Rescue said Sunday.
Authorities said they suspected the vessels were involved in smuggling.
The panga boats capsized around 11:30 p.m., officials said, adding that a passenger on another boat that made it to the shore of Black’s Beach with 15 people on board called 911 to report that victims of the other boat were in the water.
Officials from the San Diego fire and police departments, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard and state and local lifeguards were among those who responded to the scene.
The dispatcher used GPS information from the caller’s phone to determine the location of the capsized boat, which authorities said was about 800 yards north of Black Gold Road in La Jolla.
The first group of lifeguards waded through the waters on foot because high tide prevented access to the beach, according to the information shared by San Diego Fire and Rescue. A couple hundred yards in, they found lifeless bodies on a patch of dry sand, two overturned panga boats and several lifejackets and fuel barrels, officials said.
Lifeguards carried the seven bodies they initially found in the water to dry sand, and officers with Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations found the eighth body, officials said.
Searches continued Sunday morning, officials said.
Further information, including the ages of the victims and where the boats came from, was not immediately available.
Officials are expected to provide reporters with more details at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. E.T. on Sunday.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.