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Burning oil rig sinks into Gulf of Mexico, Coast Guard says

By The Times-Picayune, April 22, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire on Tuesday. The 11 workers who were missing after the blast are still unaccounted for today, but a search-and-rescue mission is continuing.

A cloud of smoke rising above the Gulf of Mexico could be seen for more than 25 miles Wednesday as fireboats try to extinguish the blaze on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig south of Venice. The burning oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice has sunk, the U.S. Coast Guard said. (Michael DeMocker / The Times-Picayune)


However, at least one relative of the missing workers said family members have been told it's unlikely anyone survived the blast, which occurred around 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The rig was spilling 13,000 gallons an hour yesterday, but virtually all of it was burning off. Now that the rig has sunk and the fire is out, crews are trying to contain the oil, which may still be spilling into the Gulf.

There were 126 workers on the rig at the time of the accident. Besides the 11 missing workers, 98 were safely brought to shore; the rest had to be treated for injuries.

Earlier today, an attorney said one of the life capsules that crews use to escape rigs was found and was being towed to Port Fourchon. A Coast Guard spokesman could not immediately confirm whether the capsule had been found.

The attorney, Ronnie Penton, declined to say whether anyone was inside the damaged capsule.

Boats had been spraying water on the burning rig since the explosion and fire but were making little headway in extinguishing the blaze.

The fire was making it impossible for a remotely operated vehicle to get to the rig to try to stop the flow of oil.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has called for an investigation into the accident.

This story is based on reporting by Chris Kirkham and Paul Rioux.


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