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Nation/World

November 17, 2012

2 missing, 4 badly burned in Gulf oil platform fire

(Continued)

Taslin Alfonzo, spokeswoman for West Jefferson Medical Center in suburban New Orleans, said four injured workers arrived in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over much of their bodies.

Two were sent by ambulance to the burn center at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Two others were to be sent later.

A spokeswoman for Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma said the hospital was treating two workers who were in good condition. Several other workers were taken to Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Cut Off. None was listed in critical condition, according to a spokeswoman, who wouldn’t specify how many patients the hospital was treating.

The production platform owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, on the western side of the Mississippi River delta. The Coast Guard said 24 people were aboard the platform at the time of the fire.

Cubanski said the platform appeared to be structurally sound. He said only about 28 gallons of oil were in the broken line on the platform.

After the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, that rig burned for about 36 hours before collapsing and sinking to the Gulf floor. The depth of the well blow-out — a mile below the Gulf surface — proved to be a major challenge in bringing the disaster under control.

The Black Elk platform is in 56 feet of water — a depth much easier for engineers to manage if a spill had happened.

A federal official in Washington said a team of environmental enforcement inspectors was flying to the scene.

David Smith, a spokesman for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said the team was dispatched from a Gulf Coast base by helicopter soon after the Coast Guard was notified of the emergency. Smith said the team would scan for any evidence of oil spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion.

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