An explosion on a Lake Pontchartrain oil rig injured six people on Sunday evening, according to officials with the Kenner, Louisiana, Police Department. One other person, who has not been identified at this time, remains missing.
Authorities confirmed the explosion occurred at approximately 7:18 p.m. Although the cause of the blast is still under investigation, officials believe it was caused by chemicals — which were being used to clean the rig’s platform.
Kenner Police Sargent Brian McGregor said a total of seven people were on the Lake Pontchartrain oil rig when it burst into flames.
Six people were rescued and were transported to local hospitals. Fox 8 Live reports that five of the workers remain hospitalized at University Medical Center and are currently in critical condition. The seventh person, whose identity has not been confirmed, is currently “unaccounted for.”
Authorities said a number of agencies, including the United States Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and the St. Charles Parish Emergency Operations Center, responded to the scene and are currently searching for the missing worker.
According to witness reports, the Lake Pontchartrain oil rig explosion was so powerful it was felt by residents more than 10 blocks away from the shore.
In an interview with NOLA.com, Andrew Love, 32, said the enormous blast shook his entire house. Although he was initially unsure what caused the shaking, he assumed “it was a sonic boom.”
Stacy Oddo, who was inside her home when the oil rig explosion occurred, also described the sound as a large “boom.”
As reported by The New Orleans Advocate, debris from the blast struck several homes in the city of Kenner.
Officials confirmed the oil rig is owned by Clovelly Oil. However, the company has not made an official statement about the explosion at this time.
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As the search for the missing worker continues, witnesses report that the platform is still burning and the smoke smells like “burning rubber.”
Officials noted that the Treasure Chest Casino, which is northwest of the oil rig, is expected to remain open. However, residents are being asked to avoid the Kenner boat launch and the surrounding area, as authorities are using the launch to access the site of the Lake Pontchartrain oil rig explosion.
[Featured Image by Lukasz Z/Shutterstock]