[Updated at 9:36 p.m.] Earl has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane but is still dangerous, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. Thursday forecast.
As of 8 p.m., the center of Earl was about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) south-southwest of Nantucket. It was heading north at about 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (165 kph).
"Even if the center of Earl remains offshore ... hurricane force winds are expected to occur in the Outer Banks overnight tonight," the center said Thursday.
[Updated at 2:14 p.m.] For continuing coverage of the incident involving a production platform on fire in the Gulf read the full story here.
[Updated at 2:08 p.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Elizabeth Bordelon tells CNN there is a sheen at the site of the production platform that measures approximately 1 mile by 100 feet. This information comes after Gov. Bobby Jindal who said there were reports of a mile-long sheen.
[Updated at 1:03 p.m.] Mariner Energy, owner of the production platform, said in a press release that no hydrocarbon spill has been reported after an initial flyover of the incident.
"Mariner has notified and is working with regulatory authorities in response to this incident," the statement said. "The cause is not known, and an investigation will be undertaken. During the last week of August 2010, production from this facility averaged approximately 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate."
The company also said no injuries have been reported.
[Updated at 12:48 p.m.] David Reed, a paramedic on board a neighboring oil rig located 14 miles from the platform that exploded, told iReport he saw all thirteen workers rescued from the water.
“We were up here in the radio room and all of sudden we saw a whole bunch of smoke coming from the platform," Reed said. "Shortly after all the radios started lighting up like a Christmas tree. They called any helicopters in the area, any boats in the area to respond, they were saying there were people in the water. There were multiple people in the water.”
See Reed's iReport of what he witnessed
WWL: Coast Guard reporting production platform incident
WDSU: Production platform explodes in Gulf
iReport: Did you see the explosion? Share images
[Updated at 12:32 p.m.] White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the federal government has "assets ready" to respond to any environmental problems resulting from the explosion of an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana.
Click to watch video
[Updated at 12:31 p.m.] All thirteen people aboard a production platform that exploded in the Gulf are accounted for and safely on a commercial vessel according to initial information, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.
"We continue to gather information as we respond with full force, and have oil spill response assets ready for immediate deployment should we receive any reports of pollution," the statement said.
[Updated at 11:53 a.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that 12 people from the production platform are in water immersion suits as they await rescue.
Colclough told CNN there are reports the production platform, which is for both oil and natural gas, is still on fire.
"We don't know what caused the rig to catch on fire," he told CNN, noting the incident is under investigation.
Asked about concerns regarding oil leaks or pollution, Colclough said "there are reports the rig was not actively producing any product, so we don't know if there's any risk of pollution."
Mariner Energy is a leading independent oil and gas exploration and production company in the Gulf of Mexico. About 85 percent of the company's production comes from offshore assets, with a growing share of that coming from deepwater developments.
The explosion comes nearly five months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and causing oil to gush into
the Gulf of Mexico, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
[Updated at 11:43 a.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that all 13 workers involved in the production platform explosion are accounted for, but one person is injured.
Coast Guard Choppers are on the way to the site 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay.
[Posted at 11:33 a.m.] An oil production platform has exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana, with 12 people overboard and one missing, the Coast Guard said Thursday morning.
Rescue attempts are under way for at least 12 people, Coast Guard spokesman John Edwards told CNN. 13 people were on board the production platform total, Edwards said, noting 12 have been accounted for, but one person was missing.
The accident took place 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana on the Vermilion Oil production platform 380, which is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy.
The Coast Guard has multiple helicopters, an airplane and several Coast Guard cutters en route. It's unknown if there are any injuries.
How many of the people giving the argument about planes crashing and we don't stop flying or driving cars and such think about that in regards to drugs? Ya people can overdose.... ya oil rigs can explode. We aren't going to stop drilling, why are drugs still illegal?
Offshore drilling in the gulf? Certainly!!! Plane crashes? Still fly? Car crashes? Use a car? If you think about it we should have a moratorium on just about everything!!! Everything just come to a halt until we can figure out how to stop all the tragedy in the world.
Wasn't there supposed to be a moratorium?
The impeachment process for Obama begins!
What ???? Are you being sarcastic? or stupid?
I vote stupid!!
God help us.
Don't blame the republicans, you stupid lib treehuggers!
But it's so EASYYYYYy
I am sure being called a Republican is a bigger insult than being called a Treehugger is this days....
Actually you and the party you support are to blame. During the Bush administration, the EPA was stripped to next to nothing and Cheney's cronies in the oil business got all kinds of exceptions to be allowed to drill without the safeguards and redundant shut off systems that are required everywhere else in the wold except off the coast of Nigeria. Spills there have RUINED the coat line for hundreds of years. You can call me what ever names you would like to (it's easy to big a big man on the internet) but it doesn't make you any less wrong.
Just aweful! How will the folks in the Gulf Coast ever recover. When it rains it pours! From Katrina to 2 rig explosions, the message is clear. GET OUT!
Yep, bound to happen. But NO...republicans believe these "accidents" are mere "accidents"...they never happen. DeepHorizon only a phenom–whats the chance of it every happening again? There you go. We have to pat them in the back for a job well done.
If the message hasn't been made perfectly clear already to everyone, then I am seriously going to by a ticket and leave America. This country is so great yet so ignorant sometimes. Yes you can argue all you want about how oil is so important to American society. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I t would be soooo hard to change and get rid of America's dependance on oil. MOre people would loose jobs.. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Guess what...times are changing...and we have forgotten what really matters in our lives. No one ever said change was easy. But if this keeps going we won't have a choice anyways, and I am refering to the whole spectrum of things. There are plenty of other energy effiecient methods. Even Brad PItt has funded and been researching homes that actually produce more energy then they consume. Lets stop being so lazy and ego-driven and own up to our mistakes as a country. YES PEOPLE WE AREN"T PERFECT!
@Joey– THREE CHEERS TO THAT!!!! When did Americans become so afraid of progress? (And before anybody starts– I mean progress in the "moving forward" way– not the "vs. conservative" way)
Did anybody cry for the blacksmith losing his job when we stopped using horses for travel? Did anyone wring their hands when vcrs went out? Did we lament the introduction of the cell-phone or the flatscreen tv???
So why the fear about taking the steps we know we will have to eventually take? I would like my generarion to be known for introducing SOMETHING positive!
Hopefully this won't turn out as bad as the last one.
please, please, PLEASE don't be anything like the last one- those people down there do NOT deserve another catastrophe
Not again! Crap! Well, so much for anything living in the gulf. Now it will be oil soup forever. :-( Why can't they stop this from happening? Hey big oil companies: spend a little more on safety for your workers and the flora and fauna in the gulf.
Unreal!! Thankfully it sounds like all have survived. I am not a religious person but maybe someone, somewhere is trying to tell us something about drilling in the Gulf.
Should we cease airplane flight, too? Stop driving cars? ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. Humans take risks everyday. What a bunch of one-trackers – shallow-minded people....
drill, baby, drill!
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