JAKARTA -- One worker was still missing and the bodies of three others had been recovered nearly two days after an oilrig exploded and sank in waters off the southeastern coast of the island of Borneo, news reports said Friday.
The afternoon daily Suara Pembaruan said rescue workers found the bodies of three workers but were still searching for a fourth missing since the 'Viking' rig, owned by Total Petroleum Co. of France and located about 70 miles offshore Borneo in the Makassar Straight, exploded Wednesday night.
Some 97 other workers had been evacuated from the rig. Three were taken with serious injuries to a hospital in the coastal city of Balikpapan owned by Indonesia's state-run oil company Pertamina.
The explosion occurred when workers drilling Total's Fisi-2 well in the Bekapai field removed a drillbit at a depth of 523 feet, unleashing a powerful and uncontrollable stream of escaping natural gas.
The rig sank two hours after the explosion, a Pertamina spokesman said.
One worker said those on the rig were able to make their escapes because the rig's electricity was immediately shut off. 'If not, the location would be on fire,' the worker said.
Total Petroleum's Total Indonesie unit, under a production-sharing contract with Pertamina, concentrates its operations on the offshore Borneo fields, about 783 miles northeast of Jakarta.
The French company, which has been operating in Indonesia for the past 20 years and has invested more than $2 billion in oil and gas exploration and production, currently produces more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day.