Elizabeth Bordelon, Coast Guard spokesperson, said that the Deepwater Horizon, a semi-submersible rig that sat on pontoons and was anchored to the sea floor, had sunk on Thursday. The potential for a massive oil spill looms large if the oil well remains uncapped.
At least 11 people were missing and seven were critically injured after an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday. The explosion happened about 10 p.m. CT (11 p.m. ET) Tuesday on a rig named the Deepwater Horizon. It was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O’Berry.
Fifteen other workers were injured, after the explosion that left the offshore drilling rig listing at 70 degrees and on fire.
“The oil fire is still burning and the cause of the explosion is under investigation,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Initial indications show that this was not a terrorist incident.”
“Most of the 126 people on the rig, escaped safely after the explosion, it’s burning pretty good and there’s no estimate on when the fire will be put out,”, O’Berry said.
Several people were hospitalized, including at least two, who were taken to a mobile trauma center.
Four people were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in the New Orleans suburb of Marrero. Two were taken by ground at 3:20 a.m., and two were flown in at 5:45 a.m., said hospital spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo. All four were treated and had been released by 11:15 a.m., she said.
Six people were taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, according to spokesman Bob Lowry. Five were treated and released, and one was admitted to the facility’s burn center, Lowry said.
Mr. Panagos, the company spokesman, said the rig had a crew of 126, most of them Transocean employees, along with some B.P. personnel, consultants and service workers.
“Once we have completed the search and rescue operation, we’ll turn the attention to investigating the cause of the accident,” Mr. Panagos said, adding that the company hoped the rig is salvageable. “We know the rig is listing,” he added, “how much it’s listing is difficult to say.”