Nov 17 The U.S. Coast Guard halted its search on
Saturday for two workers still missing a day after a fire
erupted on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast
Three helicopter crews, a Coast Guard cutter and a
fixed-wing aircraft crew spent the day searching a 1,400
square-mile (3,625 square km) area around the platform, operated
by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, the Coast Guard
said in a statement.
The search was suspended at about 5:25 p.m. Central time, a
Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
The blaze was touched off on Friday when workers were
welding a pipe on a deck of the platform in shallow waters.
Twenty-two people were on board the rig when the fire broke out
and unleashed a black plume of smoke. Eleven workers were
evacuated and nine others were taken by helicopter to hospitals.
Four workers airlifted to Louisiana's West Jefferson Medical
Center suffered second- and third-degree burns to large parts of
their bodies, said Taslin Alfonzo, a hospital spokeswoman.
The incident occurred a day after oil giant BP agreed to pay
a record $4.5 billion in penalties for its role in the 2010 Gulf
oil spill that killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels
The Black Elk-operated rig was off-line at the time of the
fire and there was little risk of a major oil spill, officials
The platform sits in 56 feet (17 meters) of water some 17
miles (27 km) south of Grand Isle, Louisiana and production had
been shut down since mid-August, Black Elk said.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which
enforces offshore drilling regulations, is investigating the