The US Coast Guard team is still searching for 11 missing workers that were on the Deepwater Horizon when the ship exploded.
According to Associated Press, seventeen people were injured and taken to hospitals, four critically, in what could be one of the nation’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past half-century.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard rescuers in two cutters searched overnight for the missing, though no one had been spotted, said Lt. Sue Kerver. The air search was suspended until first light, she said.
The rig, which is owned by Transocean Ltd., was under contract to the oil giant BP and doing exploratory drilling. Company officials would not comment on the survivors’ conditions.
Authorities could not say when the flames might die out on the 400-by-250-foot rig, which is roughly twice the size of a football field, according the Transocean’s website. A column of boiling black smoke rose hundreds of feet over the Gulf of Mexico as fireboats shot streams of water at the blaze. Officials said the damage to the environment appeared minimal so far.
Adrian Rose, vice president of Transocean, said the explosion appeared to be a blowout, in which natural gas or oil forces its way up a well pipe and smashes the equipment. But precisely what went wrong was under investigation.