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Two Missing, Four Critically Injured in Gulf Oil Rig Explosion

Fire extinguished on rig off the coast of La.; no word yet on oil leak

Common Dreams staff

At least two people are dead following an explosion on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico this morning. (Photo: WWL-TV)


Two workers are missing and four critically injured after a fire on an oil drilling platform Friday morning off the coast of Louisiana.

The fire, on a Black Elk Energy rig about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La., has been extinguished, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard told the Associated Press just afternoon noon.

The incident was reported at 9:15 am., Ryan Tibbetts of the U.S. Coast Guard told MSNBC on Friday morning.

There was no immediate report of an oil spill into the Gulf, according to MSNBC, but the Coast Guard activated a command center to investigate, KHOU-TV in Houston reports.

A parish official told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the rig was not drilling at a deepwater  site like the Deepwater Horizon that exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Local officials told the AP that "there was no pollution at the site," and Plaquemines Parish spokeswoman Caitin Campbell said the Coast Guard reported that the platform was intact and suffered no structural damage.

According to the AP,  Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier told WWL TV that 28 people were believed to be aboard the rig. Gautier said the platform was not actively producing oil and it is not believed there is any chance for a major environmental disaster. He said initial reports were that maintenance workers were cutting into a pipe and that oil may have escaped, causing the explosion.

The AP continued:

(Gaultier) told WWL TV the platform was not producing oil at the time and no environmental threat was anticipated. Gaultier said it was believed that maintenance workers were cutting a pipe and some oil may have gotten loose, causing the fire.

A team of environmental inspectors was flying to the scene, the AP reports. A spokesman for the Interior Department's Bureau of Saety and Environmental Enforcement said the team would scan for any evidence of oil spillage and investigate the cause of the explosion.

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