A suspected smuggling boat capsized on Sunday morning off the San Diego coast, breaking apart after it hit a reef near the Cabrillo National Monument, officials said.
At least three people on the boat died and 27 have been hospitalized with "varying degrees of injuries," Jose Ysea, a spokesperson for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, told the Los Angeles Times. Lifeguards who spotted the boat and raced to help initially thought only one person was on board, the Times reports, but as the vessel — described as a 40-foot cabin cruiser — started to break apart, dozens of people emerged and began jumping into the water.
"There were people in the water drowning, getting sucked out the rip current there, and there [were] people onshore," San Diego lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero said during a news conference. "We picked up about seven people in the water, two of them were facedown and drowned. ... The numbers kept on increasing."
Over the last few years, drug and human smugglers have been increasingly using the Pacific Ocean as a way to get into the United States while avoiding land crossings. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.