Last night it was reported that a yacht exploded off the coast of New Jersey. Passengers were hurled into the water as the Coast Guard launched a massive rescue operation. Well, it turns out that the yacht explosion was a hoax. The thousands of dollars the Coast Guard spent on searching for survivors, however, was not.
The search has been called off and authorities are now trying to find out who was responsible for the fake emergency transmission.
NBC reports that Coast Guard sent out boats and helicopters after receiving an emergency radio transmission late yesterday afternoon. The boat, identified as the Blind Date, was reportedly 17 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook.
The emergency call claimed that 21 people were on the yacht at the time of the explosion. The caller went on to say that the yacht had sank but all passengers, some seriously injured, had made it to life rafts.
The Coast Guard, along with the New York City police department, embarked on a massive search and rescue mission combing the waters off the New Jersey coast but were unable to find any sign of an explosion or the reported survivors floating in their life rafts. Staging areas were also set up to take care of the wounded passengers.
Cmdr. Kenneth Pierro, of Coast Guard Sector New York, said:
“More than 200 first responders assembled mass casualty receptions areas in Newark, and Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, N.J., preparing to receive the reported injured passengers.”
But after five hours of searching it became clear that the staging areas wouldn’t be needed since the yacht explosion was a hoax.
The coast guard released a statement saying:
“This case is now being investigated as a possible hoax call.”
ABC reports that making a fake distress call is a federal felony. Whoever is responsible for the yacht explosion hoax could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.