[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.
Everyone relax. It's just a bunch of off course cubans with an hibachi
ENVIROMENTAL TERRORIST SABOTAGED TOO KEEP ALL DRILLING HAULTED
This after the BP rig exploded. Too much of a coincidence. Eco-terrorism? Naw, I suspect more corporate neglect of basic safety standards. Like with the BP rig. Safety is expensive.............but neglect is even more expensive!
I guess President Obama made the right call when he wanted a ban on all deep water drilling. And then we have Sara (grizzly) Palin who keeps saying drill baby drill.
Americans are like prisoners. They have gotten use to taking it in the rear. I think they like it now.
All the Tree huggers have gotten so many stupid laws passed that has pushed them so far off the coast line and the rigs ar not built for the kind of pressure and unless everybody is going to get brand new FREE electric cars we have to drill cause you need the oil as much as the next person placing blame on one individual isnt going to help anything so lets pray everyone that was on the rig is safe and that we wont end up with oil on our coastline again.As someone who lives on the coast i know how much our economy and job force depends on off shore drilling as well as depending on clean waters for our seafood businesses.
JUst so show you to what level the absurdity of the comments: In was THE OIL COMPANIES the ones that pushed for laws allowing deep drilling as they claimed it was safe and it was needed. When THAT proved to be not the case, now the conservatives had the conjones to suggest that somehow "tree hugging" laws forced the rigs to operate too far out in the open, though the actual oil is in the locations where they are drilling, which they can only do thanks to the laws passed that allow it. It is an "underverse" of logic for these people.
People really think about ""theories"/ because these happened under Obama? Are you serious? or just that stupid? In that case, I will go ahead and bring up that 9/11 and that little thing over in the middle east happened under BUSH! Or that's right, somehow that was Obamas fault too. Personally, I dont think you can blame Obama for this anymore than you can blame Bush for 9/11. This is livelyhood and a source of fuel and energy, yet someone has to bring up politics. Next someone is going to bring up race and religion!!!
Presidnet Obama just stated to a reporter "He was not where Louisiana was" and continued with his NFL playoff picks for the upcoming season.
thank you, garc.
Some folks on here need to get your facts from another source than the net. The reason we ARE drilling so far off the coast is because people on land said "Not in my backyard" So we drill far off the coast in very deep waters. When accidents happen it takes monumental efforts and resources to attempt a fix.
If these companies could drill onshore, when an accident happens, it is much easier to get to the site and fix the problem.
As long as our country consumes petroleum in the vast amounts it does (me included) then we really have to suck it up and deal with it.
It's all Obama's fault!!! OK, until we start weaning ourself off of oil let's require all deep water oil rigs to already have a relief well in place before they open the main well. Yes, it will cost them $10 million or so to drill and the consumer maybe a .25 cents per gallon but it only makes sense...
To clarify that is a quarter (1/4) a penny per gallon. An extra penny per four gallons of gas at the pump.
How do doubling the cost and doubling the chances for disaster make sense?
If it's leaking send send Monica Lewinsky down there to see if she has any ideas
God once again trying to get the Republicans attention since they ignored him the first time
WHAT GOING ON IN THE OPERATION PROCEDURE ARE THOSE TOOL THE PRODUCT MADE IN CHINA ? WHY IS SO EASILY GOT EXPLODE , THIS IS THE TWENTY -FIRST CENTURY HI – TECH TOOL IS NOT IT ?
"well I'm going to keep driving a car, soooooooo i guess me."
That's exactly the problem. Love my car too but things have got to change. That car doesn't have to run on oil.
Anyone else going to argue on a moratorium? The worst has happened, 2 explosions. As damaging and inexcusable as the first one was giving failures by Transocean, are we really willing to put up the risk for more? This has to stop!!! If it was any other industry, any other product..... We recall baby cribs, this is no different!
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