Seven people are injured, some critically, and 11 people remain missing as of 8:45 this morning (EST) after an explosion and a fire on a drilling rig 50 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
The incident occurred at around 10pm Tuesday night, aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon. The fire continues to burn both on the rig and the water, and though the Coast Guard continues to search for the missing via plane, helicopter and cutter, Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O’Berry said the size and intensity of the fire had hampered rescue efforts. 126 people were on board at the time of the explosion.
The Coast Guard made a statement about the evacuation:
“Three were met by ambulance at Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans; two were medevaced to West Jefferson hospital in New Orleans, La. by air ambulance and two were flown to Mobile Trauma Center in Mobile, Ala.,” said a statement from the Coast Guard.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told press that the missing 11 people may be on a lifeboat that was spotted:
“There are 11 to 15 people that are missing, we are hoping, that they are on the lifeboat that is missing,” he said.
The Coast Guard confirmed at 8 a.m. that 11 people were missing.
“They spotted it earlier, they know there is people on it, but maybe with the sun coming up now, they’ll be able to locate that lifeboat and hopefully all the people will be accounted for,” said Nungesser.
Transocean, owners of the rig that was operating for British Petroleum, made a statement on their website:
“We have had a fire on the Deepwater Horizon,” Transocean said in a statement on the Upstreamonline.com web site. “A substantial number of workers” have been evacuated from the rig but that “a small number are still accounted for.
“As far as we know there have been no fatalities, but this could change,” he added.
A hotline has been set up by the company for family members. For information, call 832-587-8554.