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Two dead and two missing after Gulf of Mexico oil platform explosion and fire

16 November 2012

An oil and gas rig off the coast of Louisiana was hit by an explosion and fire on the morning of November 16, leaving two crew members dead and two others missing. Four others were airlifted in a critical condition after the incident at the shallow water platform.

The US Coast Guard confirmed that a Black Elk Energy Co. oil and natural gas platform experienced an explosion, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky over the Gulf. Reports in the late afternoon confirmed that the blaze had been extinguished and the Coast Guard said the structure of platform is "intact with no structural damage".

It was believed that about 30 people were on the platform at the time of the incident. CBS News reported that two jumped into the water and they were believed to be the ones missing.

The platform was located about 20 nautical miles southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, when the explosion happened.

The Louisiana governor's office said that the rig was non-producing, and the explosion occurred during maintenance work. The Coast Guard is currently en route to investigate the fire on the platform in the West Delta Block 32 of the Gulf of Mexico.

Captain Peter Gautier of the Coast Guard said it is believed that the incident occurred as maintenance workers were cutting a pipe and spilled oil, causing the fire.

“We cannot confirm or deny anything at this time, but we are assembling an incident command team right now,” said Black Elk Energy asset manager Kirk Trascher.

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