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Yacht that exploded off New Jersey coast 'may be a hoax,' says Coast Guard (UPDATE)

Reports of a yacht carrying 21 people that exploding off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey "may be a hoax."

Yacht explosion 110612Enlarge
A blast rips below the Baltic Sea during the Operation Open Spirit, a mission to clear the potentially deadly devices from the Baltic. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

A yacht that reportedly exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey Monday afternoon is nowhere to be found, leading Coast Guard officials to believe that the explosion is a hoax, the Associated Press reported Monday evening

Reuters reported Coast Guard helicopters and rescue boats searching in the Atlantic Ocean have yet to find debris, life rafts or individuals, according to Petty Officer Erik Swanson.

Swanson said the possibility the incident is hoax "is being considered."

Nearly two hours after a distress from one of the victims, neither a flotilla of rescue boats nor a flight of helicopters could find any wreckage from the "Blind Date" motor yacht, the local ABC News Channel 7 reported

Coast Guard Lieutenant Joe Klinker told the AP it was "highly unusual" for the Coast Guard to get to an accident scene quickly but not see any signs of distress. Klinger says it's unclear if "The Blind Date" even exists.

According to the distress call, the boat was carrying 21 people when it blew up at around 4:20 p.m., the New Jersey Ledger reported. It was roughly 17 nautical miles out to sea.

The Coast Guard received just the one transmission but the search has not been called off yet, Swanson told Reuters.

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Earlier in the day, the US Coast Guard had said all of the passengers aboard jumped ship, with some managing to escape on lifeboats, according to the Ledger. 

Nine people have so far been reported injured with second and third degree burns, ABC News had originally reported. The passengers reported that there had been "some kind of explosion on the boat," the United States Coast Guard told ABC News, but local officials have not yet determined the cause or scale of the explosion. 

Two rescue boats and a coast guard helicopter were on their way to the accident scene, along with other local government agencies and good Samaritans, Chief Warrant Officer Brandon Brewer told Reuters

According to US Coast Guard Boating Safety statistics, there were 218 boat explosions in 2011, which caused seven deaths. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120611/yacht-explosion-new-jersey-coast-sandy-hook