Update: One of 2 workers remain missing after oil platform fire off Louisiana coast
The U.S. Coast Guard in New Orleans confirms an oil rig platform exploded off the coast of Louisiana early Friday, injuring several people with two people missing.
Captain Ed Cubanski, a spokesman for the Coast Guard said despite earlier reports, there are no confirmed deaths in the incident so far. He said an active search is ongoing for the two missing crew members, according to WWLTV.
The incident was reported to the Coast Guard at 8:42 a.m. CST, Cubanski said.
Coast Guard Captain Peter Gautier said 22 people were on the platform at the time. He said there were rescues that were done by Coast Guard and Good Samaritans.
Eleven people were airlifted off the platform shortly after the explosion.
Four people were airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center in Jefferson Parish and were said by a spokesperson Taslin Alfonso to be in critical condition with second and third-degree burns over a large portion of their bodies. Two of the victims were taken to the Baton Rouge Burn Unit.
Grand Isle officials said three others were treated by EMS in Grand Isle and considered to be “walking wounded.”
Plaquemines Parish and Grand Isle officials said the fire was put out by 11 a.m. CST. According to the Coast Guard the structure of platform is “intact with no structural damage.
Gautier said the platform, run by Black Elk Energy, was not producing oil and no enviromental threat is anticipated, however, a federal official says a team of environmental enforcement inspectors is flying to the scene.
There were about 80 barrels of petroleum product aboard the platform at the time of the explosion, only about 28 gallons are expected to have been released, Cubanski said. He added that the platform is in 56 feet of water.
There was a light oil sheen about a half-mile long and 200 yards wide reported on the Gulf’s surface near the rig, which Cubanski said was consistent with the 28-gallon spill reported.
While the cause is under investigation, it appears workers were using a torch to cut a 3-inch wide 7-foot long pipe which had around 28 gallons of oil in it, authorities said.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts says the platform, owned by the Houston-based Black Elk Energy, is located in West Delta Block 32 in the Gulf of Mexico, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle. The platform produces both oil and natural gas.
The platform is a production platform, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was drilling an exploratory well in mile-deep water well to the east of Friday’s reported explosion.
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