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12 children rescued from chilly waters after boats capsize

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A dozen children participating in a sailing school off the coast of Northern California had to be rescued Sunday afternoon after a large swell of frigid, choppy water overturned several small boats.

The sailing school was in session at around 4:30 p.m. at the mouth of the Santa Cruz Harbor when a large wave capsized about four vessels, authorities said. About 20 people were tossed into the water, including 12 children, according to the Santa Cruz Fire Department and California State Parks.

“The white water just tumbled them and they were just like dominoes flying through the water,” KPIX-TV quoted witness Anna Ritter as saying.

A high surf warning had been issued earlier Sunday advising of potentially dangerous waves that could reach up to 25 feet (8 meters) or higher along the coast, news outlets reported.

Santa Cruz County Fire Battalion Chief Daniel Kline said the agency increased its staffing due to the warnings and was able to quickly respond to retrieve the stranded children. Surfers and rescue teams on personal watercraft and boats pulled the children to safety.

No injuries were reported, Klein said.

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