US oil rig ablaze in Gulf of Mexico, two dead: report

An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast caught fire on Friday killing at least two people, local television reported, citing the Coast Guard and local officials.

According to KHOU-TV four more people were airlifted to hospital -- two of them in critical condition -- and two more are missing following the disaster on a rig operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy.

The explosion comes a day after BP reached a deal with the US government to settle criminal charges over the devastating 2010 oil spill which began with an explosion on an offshore rig.

There was no immediate news on whether any oil was spilling from the burning platform, which is in relatively shallow water about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the beach town of Grand Isle.

A video feed posted online by WWLYV news showe thick black smoke pouring up from the platform. However, the station reported that the fire has been extinguished.

Neither the Coast Guard nor Black Elk Energy were immediately available to confirm the reports.

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