Offshore oil platform in Gulf of Mexico explodes

New Orleans:  An offshore oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning, injuring one worker, the United States Coast Guard said.

The platform, which was owned by the Houston-based Mariner Energy, was floating in relatively shallow waters 340 feet deep to the west of where a drilling rig leased by BP blew up and sank this spring, killing 11 people and touching off an environmental calamity. All 13 members of the work crew on board Thursday were accounted for, the Coast Guard said, though the injured worker's condition was not immediately known.

Early reports said the crew members had all been evacuated from the platform and were flown to a hospital in Houma, La.

News reports said there was smoke rising from the platform, but it was unclear whether the rig was actively burning or in danger of foundering, or whether the explosion had set off any underground oil leaks.

The platform radioed a distress call at 9 a.m. central time on Thursday, prompting the Coast Guard to scramble seven helicopters to reach the site of the explosion, located 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay in Louisiana, said Katherine McNamara, with the 8th District office of the Coast Guard, in New Orleans.

By 11 a.m., there were seven Coast Guard helicopters on the scene, five from New Orleans and two from Houston, and five Cutters. Ms. McNamara said she did not have information on when the first rescue vessel reached the scene.

Citing the Department of Homeland Security, The Associated Press reported that the platform was not actively producing oil and gas.

A spokesman for Mariner Energy did not immediately return a phone message.
Story First Published: September 02, 2010 21:35 IST

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