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Gulf Rig Explosion and Fire

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Photo courtesy WWL-TV Photo courtesy WWL-TV

GRAND ISLE, La., (KNOE 8 News) - Updating earlier reports on the explosion and fire which occurred on oil rig West Delta 32, owned by Black Elk Energy.

The Coast Guard is now saying that 11 people were airlifted out and two are missing in the wake of the explosion and subsequent fire on the rig. Despite earlier reports, it is now believed that there were no deaths in connection with the incidents.

A search for the two missing crew members is ongoing.

The four people airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center were said to be in critical condition with second and third-degree burns over a large portion of their bodies. Two of the victims were taken to the Baton Rouge Burn Unit. The other two victims were slated to be shipped to the burn unit in a few hours.

None of the other injuries reported are believed to be life-threatening.

Commenting on the incident, the CEO of Black Elk Energy, John Hoffman, said. "When something like this happens, it tears at everyone's heart."

The cause of the explosion and fire is apparently due to workers using a torch to cut some piping which contained oil.

The rig itself is not in danger, and the Coast Guard says the structure of the platform is intact. It's also believed that there is no oil leaking into the Gulf.

Earlier in the day, there were some 26 people reported to be working on the rig, but four had left prior to the explosion.

Captain Peter Gautier of the Coast Guard says the platform was not producing oil and no environmental threat is anticipated. A federal official says a team of environmental enforcement inspectors is flying to the scene. Also, a team is scanning the area to make certain that there is no oil spilling from the rig.

The platform belongs to Black Elk Energy out of Houston, Texas. It produces both oil and natural gas.


-------ORIGINAL RELEASE-------

There was an explosion and fire on a shallow water oil drilling rig today. The rig, owned by Black Elk Energy, is West Delta 32.

Latest reports from Plaquemines Parish indicate the fire is out and there is no oil believed to be leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. The rig is a production facility.

It's believed that the initial explosion was caused by an acetylene torch accidentally cutting oil lines.

Reports from the area indicate that the rig is not drilling at a deepwater site like the Macondo well that blew out in 2010. That blowout led to an explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

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