Wednesday, April 21, 2010

‘Deepwater Horizon’ rig explosion injures 17 workers, burns out of control

PORT FOURCHON, La. – Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast was involved in an explosion and fire at around 10 p.m. on April 20, sending spectacular bursts of flame into the sky.
The fires were still raging on the afternoon of April 21. Nearly 24 hours after the explosion, the rig continued to burn, and authorities could not say when the flames might die out. A column of boiling black smoke rose hundreds of feet over the Gulf of Mexico as fireboats shot streams of water at the blaze.
Seventeen workers were injured, three critically, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Eleven others were reported missing after the explosion.
Of those on the rig when the accident occurred, 79 were Transocean workers, six were BP employees and 41 were contract workers.
Vice President Adrian Rose of Transocean, the rig owner, said crews before the explosion were performing routine work and that there was no sign of trouble. The rig was under contract to BP PLC.
Rose said the explosion appeared to be a blowout, in which natural gas or oil forces its way up a well pipe and smashes equipment.
The rig late on April 21 was listing by 10 degrees and said to be sinking.
According to the Transocean website, the Deepwater Horizon is 396 feet long and 256 feet wide and was located in 5,000 feet of water.
Offshore drilling is a dangerous occupation. Since 2001, there have been 69 offshore deaths, 1,349 injured and 858 fires and explosions in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the federal Minerals Management Service.

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