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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Worker Still Missing After Oil Rig Explosion

HOUSTON (CN) - Owners of an oil platform that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing one and injuring many others, are still searching Monday for a missing worker.

A fire erupted Friday morning on Black Elk Energy's platform 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

The Houston-based company immediately notified the public that there were 22 workers on the platform at the time of the incident.

"Two individuals have yet to be accounted for and an aggressive search and rescue effort is underway," the Friday statement said.

"Nine workers were injured and are now being treated at a number of hospitals in the New Orleans area. Eleven workers were safely evacuated."

Black Elk Energy said it found the body of one of the missing workers near the charred platform on Saturday.

The U.S. Coast Guard took the body to its station in Grand Isle, and a coroner in Jefferson Parish is now examining the body, Black Elk Energy said Sunday.

Rescue efforts continue for the still-missing 22nd worker.

"Black Elk is expanding and enhancing its efforts to locate a worker who is still missing," the company's Sunday statement said. "This morning, we hired a second and third commercial dive boat and initiated a beach search with Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Department. We have also contacted all helicopter companies that fly in the area to help visual search efforts. In addition, tomorrow we will search the impacted area and other locations on the platform with a search & rescue dog.

"Last night, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it was suspending its search and rescue efforts. The Coast Guard deserves tremendous credit for the extraordinary dedication and professionalism their search team demonstrated in response to the incident at our Gulf of Mexico facility."

Doctors said one of the four injured workers is improving and is now in fair condition, according to FuelFix.com. Two others are reportedly in critical condition, and one is in serious condition.

The platform that exploded had been shut down since August and was not operating during at the time of the incident, Black Elk Energy said.

"According to visual reports from this morning, there is no visible sheen in the vicinity of the platform," the company said in a Saturday update.

Grand Isle Shipyard of Galliano, La., employed all the workers on the platform.

Officials said the fire started while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform, FuelFix.com reported.

But Grand Isle Shipyard CEO Mark Pregeant insisted that the cause of the fire is unknown.

Reports about the use of a welding torch are "completely inaccurate," Pregeant said, according to FuelFix.com.

The explosion occurred one day after BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion, the largest penalty on record, for the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

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