Offshore Oil Rig 'Deepwater Horizon' Explodes Off the Gulf of Mexico

Helicopters, ships and an aeroplane searched the waters off Louisiana's coast today for at least 11 workers missing after an explosion and fire that left an offshore drilling platform tilting in the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of the 126 people on the rig, Deepwater Horizon, were believed to have escaped safely after the explosion last night, a coast guard officer, Mike O'Berry, said. The rig, about 52 miles south-east of Venice on Louisiana's tip, was listing about 10 degrees and still burning this morning.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said that “the estimated 126 people on board have gotten off the rig,” which was still burning on Wednesday morning, but that “there are approximately 11-12 people who remain missing.” Seven were critically injured and were taken to hospitals in the region, from New Orleans to Mobile, Ala.

The US Coast Guard launched a frantic air and sea rescue operation for 11 oil workers missing in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion rocked a rig off the Louisiana coast.

Three people remained critically injured after the blast ripped through the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible platform around 10:00 pm Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), sending balls of flame shooting into the night sky.