‘Panga-Style’ Boat Motors Ashore on O.C. Beach, Prompting Lockdown of School; 4 People Located: Police

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A panga-style boat that washed ashore on an Orange County beach on Tuesday prompted a nearby elementary school to be placed temporarily on lockdown as authorities searched for and found possible occupants.

The small fishing boat was found in Crystal Cove State Park around 6:35 a.m. after Border Patrol officers responded to a report that a group of men aboard a small boat had landed on Moro Beach shores, the Los Angeles Times reported.

El Morro Elementary School was on lockdown for two hours as a result of the incident, according to the Laguna Beach Unified School District.

California State Parks spokesman Jorge Moreno confirmed that there were people were on board.

Laguna Beach police officers assisted U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel during the search. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department also utilized its helicopter crew and a Laguna Beach police drone with infrared technology to aid in efforts.

Police reported that a total of four subjects had been located about an hour after the boat was initially found. Authorities said the people were transported to a Border Patrol facility nearby, where they are currently awaiting processing.

According to the newspaper, authorities are continuing to comb through surrounding areas in search of other occupants.

Last week another abandoned boat was found on a beach near Reef Point. Though no one was aboard when authorities arrived, they estimated that the boat carried 12 people who were able to enter the country illegally, according to the Times.

Panga boats are used for fishing in Central America and are powered by small motors. They are also commonly used for smuggling narcotics and humans into the U.S.

The Times reported that in the 2017 fiscal year, 129 “maritime events” along the California coast involved panga boats.

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