Body of one missing oil rig worker found

Nov. 17, 2012 at 11:27 PM
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BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 17 (UPI) -- One of two workers missing after an explosion and fire on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig was found Saturday evening, the company said.

The Houston Chronicle reported oil rig owner Black Elk Energy of Houston said the body was located under the platform, but that rescue workers had not yet recovered it. The victim's name had not been released, the newspaper said.

Houston's KHOU-TV reported Black Elk Energy Chief Executive Officer John Hoffman said in an email that at 5:25 p.m., a contracted dive vessel had found the body and the search for the second missing worker was ongoing.

That was just about the time the U.S. Coast Guard said it had called off its air-and-water search.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jonathan Lally said 11 of the 22 people on the platform at the time of the explosion Friday morning were hurt. Four were in the burn unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital, including two in critical condition, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. The others were in stable condition.

Nine employees got off the rig, located about 20 miles from Grand Isle, without injury.

The Times-Picayune said the cause of the accident on the rig, which was not producing oil at the time, was being investigated. Authorities said it appeared workers were using a torch to cut a 3-inch-wide and 7-foot-long pipe that had about 28 gallons of oil in it, the newspaper said.

James Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said in a statement Saturday the federal agency "is committed to determining the direct and indirect causes of the explosion and will take appropriate enforcement action."

Hoffman called the incident "a heartbreaking event."

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