[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.
in other news...obama is said to be upset over his golf score today!
THE END ID NEAR
I agree with Rich for the most part....
stuff like this has probably happened before, but nobody ever really payed attention. it's only getting media exposure because of the previous oil spill...
Why can't we just find something else to use besides oil....since it's been causing so much trouble....
THE END IS NEAR
I know if my negligence caused this I would be in prison.
Who was saying Drill Baby Drill??
Drill Baby Drill!!
The blame is on all of us, we all need oil and fuel to run all of our goverments power our economy heat our homes and to produce goods. so damn the torpedoes and keep making more money for all of us,let others worry about the details
Colclough said "there are reports the rig was not actively producing any product." So, where did the explosion come from?
I'm pretty sure that for a huge oil company to take more precaution so that this wouldn't happen in the first place, would be a LOT cheaper than to pay to fix a huge mistake like this (and the gulf of mexico spill.) So why don't they... preventing this would cost less in the long run.... spills are expensive to clean up, and cost lives, the environment, and of course, MONEY. Why not save money and controversy.... I don't think I will ever understand why this keeps happening, especially with all the incredible technology we have these days. This has to be the last time, we can't put up with this anymore.
Whats really going on down in the Gulf! I do not think theese are accidents here! I do not know who is responsible but this is being done on delibertly.
President Obama has sent a team to collect names and assign blame. Looks like his portion is done. It's VACATION TIME!!!
Maybe he can just use some of that footage where he shakes hands and walks along the beach and not waste time on a trip down there again...
We are being given clues...but we don't take them...we just keep doing what we do.
as long as there is a black market, there will be thieves.
Alright, I don't usually read blogs. Much less, respond to comments made in them. I work in the Gulf of Mexico and am currently out here as this is written. Does anyone want to wait and see what the cause of the fire was? No? Let's just start making off-the-cuff remarks and make ignorant assumptions, ok? That's right, ignorant. Until you know the facts, any comment is considered ignorant. Until you work in this industry any comment made, no matter how intellectual it may sound, is ignorant. I don't know what happened over there with Mariner, either. But, don't be surprised if it wasn't just a galley fire that spread through the living quarters.
When everything was going fine for the oil industry. They're all yelling hands-off don't tell me what to do. Why do they expect the government to step in and clean up their messes they don't even want pay taxes.
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