Two dead, two missing in oil rig fire

GRAND ISLE, La., Nov. 16 (UPI) —

Two workers are dead and two are missing after a fire Friday on an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana coast, the rig’s owner said.

Four workers were airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center in Jefferson Parish, La., said Kirk Trascher, spokesman for the oil rig’s owner, Black Elk Energy of Houston.

The platform is considered non-producing, meaning it is not currently pumping oil, and the incident will likely not devolve into a major oil spill, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Friday.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the rig is in shallow water in West Delta Block 32 of the Gulf of Mexico, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier said 28 company employees were on the rig when the fire broke out, apparently because a pipe containing oil ignited while being cut.

Workers were performing "shutdown platform work" when the fire began, the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.

The Coast Guard activated a command center to investigate the incident, and two Coast Guard helicopter teams, from Mobile, Ala. and from New Orleans, were called in to help in the search for the missing workers, KHOU-TV, Houston, reported.

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