A mile-long oil slick is spreading from an oil platform ablaze in the Gulf of Mexico, the US Coast Guard said overnight, citing a report from rig workers who jumped into the sea to safety.
The fire started after an explosion ripped through the rig, dumping all 13 workers aboard into the ocean.
“All 13 are accounted for and they are all wearing some sort of an immersion suit that protects them from the water,” Coast Guard chief petty officer John Edwards said.
The workers told rescue crews that the slick was about 10 feet wide but hoped that no more oil would leak into the sea, Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane said.
“It was relayed to us by the survivors that they were able to initiate shutdown procedures before they abandoned ship,” he said.
“We’ve been told that the fire is contained but not out.”
The Coast Guard has sent cutters and helicopters to the area, some 145 kilometers south of Vermilion Bay in Louisiana, but has not yet been able to assess the condition of the rig or how much oil has escaped.
All 13 workers aboard the platform when it caught fire managed to escape and are being transported to an area hospital.
Officer Lane did not have an update on their conditions but one of the workers had been reported injured.
The blast comes more than four months after an explosion ripped through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, some 80 kilometers off Louisiana, killing 11 workers and unleashing an environmental catastrophe.