Gulf oil rig sinks; 11 people still missing

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An oil platform that burned for more than day after a massive explosion sank into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Crews searched by air and water for 11 workers still missing from the Deepwater Horizon, though one relative said family members have been told it’s unlikely anyone survived Tuesday night’s blast.

Supply vessels had been shooting water into the rig try to control the flames enough to keep it afloat, but couldn’t, Coast Guard Petty Officer Katherine McNamara said.

Rescue crews have covered the 1,940-square-mile search area by air 12 times and by boat five times. The boats searched all night, hoping the missing workers might have been able to get to a covered lifeboat with supplies.

Carolyn Kemp of Monterey, La., said her grandson, Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, was among the missing. She said he would have been on the drilling platform when it exploded.

“They’re assuming all those men who were on the platform are dead,” Ms. Kemp said. “That’s the last we’ve heard.”

Other relatives waited anxiously for hourly updates. Family members of one missing worker, Shane Roshto of Amite, Miss., filed a lawsuit in New Orleans on Thursday accusing the rig’s owner of negligence. The suit said he was thrown overboard by the explosion and is feared dead, though it did not indicate how family members knew that was what happened.

The suit names Transocean Ltd., which owns the rig, and oil giant BP, which contracted it, as defendants. A Transocean spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and BP wouldn’t discuss the suit.

The family of Dewey Revette, a 48-year-old from southeast Mississippi, said he was also among the missing. He worked as a driller on the rig and had been with the company for 29 years.

“We’re all just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and hoping for good news — and praying about it,” said Mr. Revette’s 23-year-old daughter, Andrea Cochran.

Transocean Ltd. spokesman Guy Cantwell said 111 workers who made it off the Deepwater Horizon safely after Tuesday night’s blast were ashore Thursday, and four others were still on a boat that operates an underwater robot. A robot eventually will be used to stop the flow of oil or gas to the rig, cutting off the fire. He said officials have not decided when that will happen.

Seventeen others hurt in the blast were brought to shore Wednesday with burns, broken legs and smoke inhalation. Four were critically injured.

A slow trek across the water brought most of the uninjured survivors to Port Fourchon, where they were checked by doctors before being brought to a hotel in suburban New Orleans to reunite with their relatives.

One worker said he was awakened by alarms and scrambled to get on a lifeboat.

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