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Coast Guard suspends search for missing persons after oil barge explosion off Texas

24 October 2017

The US Coast Guard said on October 22 it had suspended its search for two crew members who vanished two days earlier after a barge exploded and began leaking oil off Port Aransas, near Corpus Christi. The pair disappeared after the forward section of the barge caught fire and exploded about three miles off the coast in the early hours of the morning. 

Oil barge on fire off Port Aransas - Image USCG
Oil barge on fire off Port Aransas - Image USCG

There were eight people on board the barge when it exploded en route to a refinery with 133,000 barrels of crude. The Coast Guard took six crew off the stricken vessel and carried out a comprehensive search for the missing men for two full days, but called off the hunt early on October 22. It said several oil discharge recovery vessels and other Coast Guard vessels still in the vicinity would continue to keep a watch for the missing crew members.

The explosion caused an oil spill. Overhead images showed a black substance leaking from a hole in the bows and the Coast Guard said there was an oil spill 2 miles by a quarter mile wide.
Containment booms have been positioned to protect environmentally sensitive areas, but there are reports that oil has begun washing up on Mustang Island beaches.

The barge and tug are owned by Bouchard Transportation, which declined requests for comment from local media.

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