Two Missing in Gulf Oil Rig Blast

From ABC News

By Colleen Curry and Whitney T. Lloyd

Ships and helicopters are searching for two oil rig workers who disappeared when an explosion rocked a gulf oil rig off the coast of Louisiana and set it on fire, Coast Guard officials said.

Eleven other crew members were flown to hospitals, and four of them are listed in critical condition. No one has been confirmed dead.

Earlier reports by the Coast Guard that as many as 15 people were unaccounted for were resolved as the workers were located.

Among the injured were four who were airlifted for medical treatment to the West Jefferson Medical Center, where they are in critical condition after suffering serious burns. All four are intubated and will be evacuated to Baton Rouge Burn Center when they are stabilized, according to West Jefferson spokesman Taslin Alfonzo.

Three helicopters and two rescue boats are scouring the water looking for the missing crew members, according to Ed Cubanski, chief of the U.S. Coast Guard response.

The Coast Guard said that a Black Elk Energy Co. oil and natural gas platform caught fire after workers using a torch cut a line that had 28 gallons of oil in it, causing an explosion.

Black Elk’s CEO, John Hoffman, said that the wrong tool was used in cutting the line. Contract workers should have used a saw instead of a torch, which caught vapors and caused the blast. The workers were employees of Grand Isle Shipyard, not Black Elk, he said. All of the individuals were men.

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