[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.
I can't understand why the companies wouldn't do a better job, they lose more money from the lost equipment, lost oil, replacement equipment, cleanup, settlements and lost business from disgusted customers going to the station across the street, than they can ever save by cutting corners. *points to what I just typed* look at it company execs, do the math and stop throwing away all your potential profits with corner cutting (and ridiculously-lengthy fix procedures)!!
Use your brain people Obama tried to prevent this with his moratorium. Everyone complained that it would temporarilly cost a few thousand people their jobs. How many people lost their livelyhood to the BP fiasco? a million or so? How many more will loose their way of life it this one leaks?
It is not a "oil rig" it is a "production platform". If you are going to report something use the correct terminology.
Drill baby drill! Anyone who thinks we can completely do away with deep water drilling is very naive.
Well that should be it for the off shore drilling lookin like odessa texas is fixin to be boomin with the big bucks
Hope the blowout preventer on this rig does its job, or the Gulf is in deep $*** again...
I still want offshore drilling to continue. Whether you like it or not, crude oil is an intrinsic part of your life. Take ten minutes out of your day and stand on the corner of the busiest intersection near where you live. During that ten minute period, count how many cars and trucks go by you. Now do the math. If 200 cars/trucks go by your location, that equates to 1200/hr. Assuming a 12 hour busy day, that generates approximately 15,000 cars/trucks per day, just during work hours. Lets further assume that each vechicle has a 20 gallon fuel tank.
The math: (15,000 cars) x (20 gallon/car) = 300,000 gallons of fuel/ 42 gallons per barrel= 7142 bbls crude oil x 1.35 , as a bbl of crude yields approx. 65% gasoline= 9641 bbls crude. That is just in your small town. Now multipy that across the entire country.
That little exercise only concerns gasoline; so many other products in your life are directly dependent on crude oil: plastic bags, lube oil, baby oil (yes mineral oil from crude), lexan, saran wrap, plexiglass....ad nauseum.
Chances are your electricity is somehow dependent upon crude oil, either directly as a power source or as a lubricant. Your drinking water gets purified by that same electricity.
Where do you propose to get all of that oil?
Hopefully its not the same as the BP/Halliburton rig but if it is at least we have a good idea how to end it quickly this time.
NOW does anyone believe there are enemies at work here? Maybe the other oil suppliers in the Middle East?
PALIN read your palm– tell us what to do!!!! Drill Baby Drill
http://www.mariner-energy.com/officers.html# LOOKS LIKE THESE PEOPLE WILL WANT THEIR LIVES BACK SOON.. ALSO.. THE CEO IS A FORMER ENRON VP.. HMMMMM
Rick, can nutjobs like you be serious? Obama is somehow responsible for this too? If you guys get up in the morning and Bush made you scrambled eggs instead of sunnyside up, I guess Obama is responsible for that as well. Good Lord.
omg davaju flashes before my eyes. how much oil will hit our oceans this time, i see a bleak future for the human race, all because the human race feels the need to be rich and travel far. For pittys sake, end the oil BS now! Shut down the rigs. stop srilling! force all countries to find alternatives!
Here is a second map
Look like BP's terrorist attack this oil rig for some reason?
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