Some workers missing after Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion

By Crystal Price - bio | email

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The Coast Guard says at least 11 people are missing and seven hurt after an explosion and fire at an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana.

The rig -- which is still burning -- is owned by Transocean Ltd. of Houston. Spokesman Greg Panagos says the rig was drilling but was not in production. The rig is under contract to BP.

"We don't know what caused the incident," said Adrian Rose with Transocean Ltd. "Our efforts are primarily concentrated on trying to help the people and secondly to secure the rig."

While most of the 126 people on the rig are believed to have safely escaped after last night's explosion, crews are working hard to find those who have not yet been accounted for.

"We have oil spill response plans and we are mobilizing as we speak," said David Rainey with the Coast Guard. "My understanding is that there are 7 vessels en route for rescues."

Rescuing those who are missing is crucial as the rig is still in flames almost one day after the explosion.

"The fire is still burning and it goes up and down," said Rose. "It's coming up the riser and our effort must be to put the fire out."

But Admiral Mary Landry with the Coast Guard said the fire should not get in the way of the search.

"Right now there is minimal pollution in the water, mainly the product is burning off," said Landry. "That's not causing a problem we have very good conditions out there."

Seven workers were airlifted to a Naval air station near New Orleans, then taken to hospitals. 2 of the seven were taken to a burn center in Mobile, Ala.

If you would like to check on a family member involved in Tuesday night's rig explosion, family members can call (832) 587-8554 for more information.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.