[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.
Spill, Baby, Spill? Wasn't that what was being chanted 2 years ago? Geniuses.
Here we go again!
Aw here we go again *kenan and kel theme starts*
Yes. I want to keep off shore drilling. Two cops got shot in my hometown should we stop having cops.
I seldom hear this level of ignorance from people with two letter names.
I agree JD......all I can say is AMEN!
I think the argument there would be 'two cops were shot, let's stop allowing guns'.
Good try, though!
No – but you might want to reconsider guns.
No, but we should punish those responsible.
That is literally the worst logic I have EVER heard. It's not even a strawman argument, it's just a stupid argument.
that's a whole other issue...gun control
Yeah JD, because that's exactly the same thing. rrriiight.....
Thanks for the entertainment. JD.....is that what you had for breakfast?
The only reason you want to keep drilling is because you are a mindless follower like most republicans, and you know that the republican party is totally owned by the oil companies and large corporations. Why would you want to do anything for the environment or for safety when it means that you might get your largest political donors angry?
Explode baby explode... not quite as catchy
There's always 'Blow baby, blow', but I guess somebody could take that the wrong way.
Was this a drilling or a pumping rig??
If the story is correct and only 13 people were on board then it couldnt have been a drilling rig it would have to be a production rig. But thats if the story is accurate which this early would be tough to say either way.
Hey Palin - DRILL BABY DRILL??????
yes... we need to keep producing the plastic it takes to make your computer and monitor, car seats, nylon clothes...... oh, maybe we should just drill places other than our own area and just buy it from them?
Hey Obama you need another vacation. I have a perfect place for you to go.
alleycat, for a comment like that, wow! everyone has an opinion, just like everyone has an a**hole. For you to emply that Obama should vacation in hell (cuz that's what I make of it) is just plain childish. So while you are telling him to go there, pack your bags and meet him there!
Yeah, because it was all Obama's fault. I have the perfect place for YOU to go.
Say no to the moratorium. Who needs it. LOL.. ...need to drill now. .. Drill baby drill... Gotta love the southern idiots! Obama should leave you all to your insanity... Pull the coast gaurds back and have your beloved Governor paddle his dumb ars out there... Idiots.. Let see how you all spin this one to be Obamas fault!
Yep you're right. Obama got in a row boat, paddled out 80 miles to the rig and blew it up. What a moron!!
Idioys. Submarines to get in the neighborhood, submersible to close and plant. As for anyone who doesn't think this within the bounds of possibility? Have another glass. Lenin would be proud.
Oh no! Not again! We need to start changing the way we recruit executive leadership in this country. The present formula is KAPUTZ. That is my opinion.
Seriously!?! Come on!!
Manticore – I do. drill baby drill.
What about the oil? Is this another leak?
"Drill, baby, dr.....oh crap"
So, you're telling me the democratic party has people infiltrated oil rig workers to case these explosions out of despiration to keep a couple more seats in the house and senate? Wow! A new level of nut-jobedness!
and what oil are you smoking? Blame it on the Democrats. Go live up in Alaska with all the other Palin-ites
Blame it on Obama :-)
haha, they will.
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