Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig Explosion Leaves 2 Dead; Is It Another Environmental Disaster?

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By Maria Vultaggio | November 17, 2012 5:26 AM EST

Coast Guard officials said an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, sending four people to area hospitals on Friday, while two others were believed to be missing and another two were determined dead, the BBC reported.

Three of the four people taken to the hospital were said to be in critical condition, according to WVUE's Chris Finch.

The rig is a production platform owned by Black Elk Energy and is located about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier explained to WWL TV that 28 people were thought to be aboard the rig.

Twenty-eight people were on the platform when the fire began. Since the explosion, 20 people were evacuated to nearby rigs and oil platforms, seaman Drake Foret said to the BBC.

The platform was not actively producing oil, so it’s unlikely for a major environmental disaster to occur because of the explosion, Gautier explained to the AP.

As of now it is currently unknown if oil has spilled into the water.

Maintenance workers were cutting into a pipe and oil may have escaped causing the explosion on Friday morning.

The Associated Press reported that two helicopters, an airplane and small boats were sent to the area, and the fire has since been put out as of 10.30 a.m.

The Black Elf Energy platform is a production platform, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling a mile-deep water well for oil giant BP east of where Friday’s explosion was reported.

A spokesperson for Black Elk, an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas, has yet to comment on the recent explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The explosion occurred just one day after US Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that major oil company BP would have to pay a record criminal fine of $4.5bn (£2.8bn) dating back to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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