11 still missing after massive oil rig sinks
23 April 2010
The BP owned Deepwater Horizon drilling rig located in the Gulf of Mexico was hit by an explosion on the 20th April. The explosion is thought to have been caused by a blow-out - a surge of oil under high pressure - as the rig was being plugged until production plans could be made. The rig operated by Transocean burned for 36 hours before sinking on the 22nd April extinguishing the fire.
11 still missing after a massive oil rig explosion
The fire is believed to be the worst such accident in the region in over 20 years, leaving 11 workers still unaccounted for.
The rig is 400 feet by 250 feet and the sinking is likely to have broken the pipes connecting the well to the rig, allowing oil to escape into the water.
The rig was drilling BP's Macondo project with 126 workers on board when there was an explosion followed by a fire. The rest of the workers escaped and 17 with injuries were helicoptered to hospitals around New Orleans. Search and rescue activities are ongoing but the probability of success in locating the 11 missing persons decreases.
The explosion comes almost three weeks after President Barack Obama unveiled plans for a limited expansion of US offshore oil and gas drilling. Obama has said that dealing with this oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a "number one priority"
BP has mobilised a fleet of vessels including a large storage barge, 32 spill response vessels, and has four aircraft ready to spray more than 100,000 gallons of dispersant.
In reaction to fears that the spill could harm wildlife and ecosystems, BP said it had a pre-planned staging of resources for protection of environmentally sensitive areas.
The dangers of working on an oil rig have declined in recent decades, but the job can still be risky.
Since 2001, there have been 858 fires and explosions in the Gulf, according to the federal Minerals Management Service. Family members of two of the missing workers have already filed lawsuits accusing Transocean and BP of negligence
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