[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.
If the US doesn't put in regulations the whole world will suffer!
If you can't drill safely, you shouldn't be allowed to drill!
For those blaming President Obama – he was the one who wanted to call for a Moratorium after the first oil rig explosion and Conservatives went nuts. That's exactly what needs to be done, we need to figure out what's going on in the oil industry and on these rigs for safety reasons and the preservation of our environment. Obviously, the oil industry doesn't feel they need to do anything since President Bush signed the deregulation and oil subsidization bill, which was signed in 2005. He basically gave them the power to self-regulate.
This isn't surprising.
Thank goodness for no deaths reported and only one injured.
People will never learn...
Yeah, that was real brilliant. The loony left is at it again. Go see a shrink, you're desperately in need of one.
Loony left? What are you talking about moron? All of these rigs were built and inspected during the bush administration. How can you blame the "loony left" for all of the mistakes that bush and the republicans did during their terms in office from 2000 to 2008. I am beginning to think that republicans don't have the ability to think for themselves, and simply listen to fox news in order to form an opinion about anything.
"All of these rigs were built and inspected during the bush administration."
Blame Bush! Blame Bush!
"I am beginning to think that republicans don't have the ability to think for themselves, and simply listen to fox news in order to form an opinion about anything."
LOL – that's hilarious.
It would be hilarious, if it wasn't deadly accurate. So it is clear that you are one of those republicans who puts your fingers in your ears and won't listen to any logical reasons that the republican party is destroying America. I see, you don't have the ability to think for yourself.
Judging from this conversation, if the liberal's mantra is "Blame Bush", the opponents' strategy is "Blame Obama" or the Democrats in Congress for everything that happens, could happen or might have happened. Neither position is particularly mature, but that seems to be the tone of the discussion on this and virtually any other topic. And when everything else fails, some "conspiracy theory" never hurts, like the idiotic statement that finds the accident to be a strange coincidence with a judge who might have ruled one way or another in the dispute about the moratorium. Resign yourself, the moratorium is not going to go away through the judicial system, but only when a realistic amount of scrutiny has been carried out.
In the case of this platform, how about waiting until we find out what really happened? We might discover that this platform (not a rig) has been in production for a number of years, that the current owner (Mariner Oil) acquired it from another company (probably one of the majors), that all the paperwork was in order, and that no amount of inspection by anybody might have detected the problem.
By the way, stop blaming anybody for companies "being forced" to drill so far offshore. They do it because they WANT to, not because they are not allowed to drill any closer to shore. There are already 4,000 platforms in shallower waters in the Gulf, and if you want to find oil and gas in serious amounts, you NEED to go further out.
I totally agree with you..
But lets's not toot the horn too loud for ourselves.. Most of the Dems up for relection. and even some that aren't, are playing politics and voting to "try to save their jobs" instead of doing what is really best for the people of this country. Sometimes the media gets us all rilled up and we THINK we know what is going on.. but non of us really do.
Uh . . . the BP platform was being operated under rules in force - but not being enforced - by an executive branch department during the CURRENT administration. One that, as it turns out, is totally the tool of the oil companies. Now, if that's because they are hold overs from prior administrations, then the current administration is derelict in not cleaning house. Obama's people have had plenty of time to make sure that the regulatory bodies under their control - and they ALL are - are doing their jobs. They didn't, which means his administration is not doing it's job!
It follows: Putting this administration was the electorate's error. So: in essence, if you voted to put this administration in power: It's YOUR fault!!!
@ NeverLift – Until the BP incident, oil drilling regulation was not a priority of the president, his administration or any members of congress – including Republicans. Our wars, unemployment, corperate bailouts, no health care, the housing market, Wall Street, ponzi schemes, and a hundred other issues took priority. I'm sure every inch of the previous administration is examined every time a new president hits the white house. It just takes time to get to the things that appear to be running smoothly - until a disaster happens. The the priorities are changed.
Yay! Another one. Oil much?
Tragic that we can't extract energy from ignoramuses.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING !!!!
When a car crashes it doesn't release 206 million gallons of crude into the ocean. Neither does a plane. Only an offshore oil rig does that. Stop comparing oil spills to car crashes. While you're at it, seek employment that doesn't pollute or kill. I understand people need jobs, but that doesn't justify destroying OUR (not YOUR) planet. It was your (foolish) choice to go into the oil business, and this is a capitalist system, so...adapt or die! The only reason we NEED oil is because the industry makes us need it, they systematically buy up alternative energy patents and shelve them so were stuck using oil. We are smarter than this. Well, some of us are...
these accidents are created for profit...this link exposes the FACTS
According to Mariner Energy's March 2010 report, Vermilion Oil Rig 380 was producing at 100% (47% oil, 53% natural gas), yet Mariner is saying this rig was not in production. Something tells me the truth isn't being told.
It might have been shut down because of the moratorium.
This is where "Drill Baby Drill" and "get government regulations off industry's back" gets you.
you are all missing the root cause – this sounds like holy punishment to me. where is that wack job from oklahoma? he'll tell ya – it happens because god does not want gays in the military.
We keep on blowing these things up just for oil? Yet, as I read a few short days ago, one of the old anti-nuke protesters is starting again to recruit new, younger protesters. I love this energy hungry world that sees no alternatives than oil!!
This blog – This Just In – will no longer be updated. Looking for the freshest news from CNN? Go to our ever-popular CNN.com homepage on your desktop or your mobile device, and join the party at @cnnbrk, the world's most-followed account for news.