UPDATE: Platform Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico — Two Missing, Eleven Airlifted to Hospitals, No Confirmed Deaths [VIDEO]
UPDATE 2 p.m.: Grand Isle Shipyard President Mark Prejeant confirmed for WWL that many of those injured in the blast were employees of his company. There were 22 employees on the platform — 14 of them were GIS employees. Even Prejeant, however, is having trouble getting information on his employees’ injuries and whereabouts.
UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Four of the crew members being prepared to be transported to Baton Rouge with second- and third-degree burns.
UPDATE 12:02 p.m.: The Coast Guard is now NOT CONFIRMING any deaths in the explosion. The number of people airlifted to hospital has been raised to 11. Crews were using a torch to cut into a pipe. Two crew members are still missing, and crews are combing the area. A small sheen of oil is being reported on the water. The fire is out.
UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: The Advertiser is reporting that no contamination has gotten into the Gulf, though a federal team is on its way to the scene to investigate.
UPDATE 11:40 a.m: WWL-TV reports that the four who were airlifted to a Jefferson Parish hospital are in critical condition. The rig has not suffered structural damage.
ORIGINAL POST: Coast Guard crews are combing the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig explosion this morning about 25 miles south of Grand Isle. Current reports are that two are dead and two others are missing.
According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, the rig is owned by Black Elk Energy out of Houston, Texas (with a Louisiana branch in Broussard). NewsRadio KPEL 96.5 in Lafayette stated a total of four were taken to a Jefferson Parish hospital and that the rig is in an area called West Cote Blanche.
WWL in New Orleans reports that firefighters got the blaze under control around 10:30 a.m. Twenty-eight people were believed to be on board the rig at the time of the explosion. The two who are missing may have jumped overboard.
Grand Isle officials said two others who were on the platform were being treated by EMS in Grand Isle and considered to be “walking wounded.”
The rig is in much shallower water than the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in 2010 and killed 11. No major ecological catastrophe is expected, as the rig was not actively producing. Initial reports are that crews were cutting into a pipe with oil in it, leading to the explosion.
The incident comes just one day after BP Oil was handed the largest fine in U.S. history ($4.5 billion) for its involvement in the Deepwater Horizon incident.