23 April 2010

Search For Workers Missing After Oil Blast

A huge air and sea rescue operation is continuing in the Gulf of Mexico for at least 11 oil workers missing after an explosion on a rig.

Crew members from the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible oil rig jumped into the water to escape as balls of flames shot into the night sky.

Survivors have been found on the rig and in the waters surrounding it, some of them clinging to life rafts.

Seventeen people were airlifted to hospital in Louisiana by helicopter. Seven were critically injured in the explosion.

A total of 126 workers were on board the rig, which is run by Transocean, at the time of the blast.

Those who were not injured have been ferried to shore by other vessels.

"All of our units are doing search and rescue," Coast Guard spokeswoman Katherine McNamarra said.

Oil rig fire

The injured had been airlifted to hospital

Rig owners Transocean said family members of the rig's crew were being brought to Louisiana and were being provided with counselling.

Transocean spokesman Greg Panagos said: "Anytime an incident like this happens, it's a huge deal to us. We don't want to see anybody hurt and we'll do everything we can to take care of the crew."

The vice president of Transocean said the explosion was probably caused by a pressure build-up during drilling.

The Coast Guard said a joint investigation would be conducted by them, the US Interior Department's Minerals Management Service and BP, to whom the rig was under contract.

Environmental teams were also to assess the damage after all workers had been accounted for and the fire extinguished.

According to Transocean, the Deepwater Horizon platform is 396ft long and 256ft wide. It can accommodate a crew of up to 130.


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