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Published: Wednesday, 4/21/2010

At least 11 workers sought after oil rig explosion in Gulf

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS — At least 11 people were missing and seven injured after an explosion and fire at an oil drilling platform off the coast of Louisiana, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Most of the 126 people were believed to have escaped safely after the explosion at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry said. It happened about 52 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip.

The rig was still burning Wednesday morning and was listing about 10 degrees, O'Berry said.

“It's burning pretty good and there's no estimate on when the fire will be put out,” O'Berry said.

O'Berry said there were conflicting reports coming in but at least 11 — and possibly as many as 15 — were missing.

“We're hoping everyone's in a life raft,” he said.

Seven workers were airlifted to a Naval air station near New Orleans, then taken to hospitals. He said two of the seven were taken to a trauma center in Mobile, Ala., where there is a burn unit.

O'Berry said many workers who escaped the rig were being brought to land on a workboat while authorities searched the Gulf of Mexico for any signs of lifeboats.

The rig was drilling but was not in production, according to Greg Panegos, spokesman for its owner, Transocean Ltd., in Houston. The rig was under contract to BP.



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