UPDATE: Coast Guard officials now say that the report of an explosion on a yacht off the coast of New Jersey may have been a hoax. Searchers have been unable to find any debris, a sign that there may not have been an explosion at all, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
An explosion aboard a yacht reportedly caused all 21 passengers to abandon ship, safety officials say. The yacht was reported to be 17.5 miles off the New Jersey coast, east of Sandy Hook. The Coast Guard has deployed helicopters and rescue boats to the scene, but has yet to find any signs of the explosion.
Little is known about the cause of the explosion, but according to early reports, as many as nine people were injured in the blast. All passengers have been accounted for. WABC reports that the Coast Guard was alerted to explosion aboard the yacht, named Blind Date, at 4:20 p.m. A nearby vessel, named Erica, was reportedly helping with the rescue while Coast Guard personnel were on route.
As of 6:15 p.m., the Coast Guard had not yet reached the location of the reported explosion, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. The paper also reports that two helicopters from the Coast Guard, three motor life boats, three NYPD helicopters, and a Nassau County helicopter are responding.
ABC News reports that "nearly two hours after a distress call, neither a flotilla of rescue boats nor a flight of helicopters could find any evidence of the vessel Blind Date or any wreckage from an explosion." The absence of debris is "highly unusual," according to ABC News.