(Reuters) – Three people were killed and more than two dozen injured Sunday when a suspected smuggling ship broke up at the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, California, the San Diego Fire-Rescue said. The initial call came just before 10 a.m. (1700 GMT) and sparked a large emergency response, including from the US Coast Guard and state and local agencies, as the scale of the incident became apparent. The 40-foot (12 m) boat had been ripped apart by waves when rescue boats arrived, said Rick Romero, a San Diego Fire-Rescue lifeguard lieutenant. Several people were pulled out of the water and some required life-saving efforts on the beach. There were about 30 people on the ship in overcrowded conditions without proper safety equipment, authorities said. “Every indication from our perspective is that it was a smuggling vessel, used to smuggle migrants into the United States,” said Jeff Stephenson, a Border Patrol agent. The nationality of the people on the ship was not immediately known, Stephenson said, adding that the captain was in custody and speaking with investigators. Authorities said they had seen a marked increase in maritime smuggling in recent years. The ship involved in Sunday’s incident was larger and had more people than most smuggling boats, according to the Border Patrol. The Cabrillo National Monument is a park with trails, tide pools, and displays on California’s history, operated by the U.S. National Park Service. It is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who landed in 1542 as the first European to reach what is now the west coast of the United States, according to the Park Service website.
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