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California: Over 30 people missing after boat bursts into flames

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Rescuers scrambled Monday to reach as many as 34 people trapped below the deck of a burning commercial scuba-dive boat off the coast of California, US Coast Guard officials said. Many were feared dead.

Firefighters converged on the scene near Santa Cruz Island but the blaze and intense heat prevented them from breaching the hull of the 75-foot (23-meter) vessel to see if there were survivors, they said.

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“I’m unaware of any survivors at this time,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Aaron Bemis told CNN, adding that it was too early to confirm casualties.

Beamis said the fire broke out at around 3:15 am local time (1015 GMT) as passengers were below deck in a sleeping area.

Five crew members who were in a cabin above deck made it off the boat, Beamis said. But those below deck, who he said were reported to number 34, had not been accounted for.

Ventura County Fire Department/AFP / HO A fire swept a commercial dive boat near Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California 

“The fire was so intense that even after it was put out, we’re not able to actually embark the vessel and, you know, look for survivors at this point. It’s still ongoing,” he said.

He said the fire was put out multiple times but flared back up, apparently because of the amount of fuel in the vessel.

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Bill Nash, a spokesperson for Ventura County, told CNN many people were feared dead.

“It’s a large boat, and we know we have numerous fatalities. I don’t have an exact number,” Nash said.

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Republicans walk out of impeachment hearing to get ‘orders’ from the White House: Claire McCaskill

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As US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland took his seat to give his testimony for today's public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, former Sen. Claire McCaskill pointed out on MSNBC that key Republicans on the House Intelligence committee walked out of the room after Sondland's opening statement was released.

"And they are talking to the White House, I guarantee you right now, trying to figure out a path forward," McCaskill said. "And so, we may not gavel in for a while because it will be very difficult for Schiff to gavel in until the Minority shows up."

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‘Devastating for Trump’: Former White House lawyer says president’s defense ‘has entirely collapsed’ with Sondland testimony

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland will present "devastating" testimony, as evidenced by leaked copies of his opening statement.

Sondland directly will implicate President Donald Trump for a "quid pro quo" in his opening testimony.

Neal Katyal, the former acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, offered his analysis of the testimony on Wednesday.

Katyal's analysis offers the implications for Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Katyal suggests will need to be subpoenaed by House Democrats.

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Ohio farmer who voted for Trump mulls independent run against Jim Jordan: ‘We hold kryptonite to this president in our shirt pockets’

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Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio has been a favorite of the far-right Tea Party and is one of President Donald Trump’s most strident defenders in the U.S. House of Representatives. But not everyone in the Buckeye State appreciates Jordan’s relentless support of Trumpism, and a farmer who supported Trump in 2016 is exploring the possibility of running against Jordan in the 2020 election.

The Toledo Blade’s Liz Skalka reports that Chris Gibbs, a cattle and grain farmer from Shelby County, Ohio, is “launching an exploratory committee” to possibly run against Jordan. A former Republican, Gibbs would challenge Jordan not as a Democrat, but as an independent — and his biggest motivation is Trump’s tariffs.

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