[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 guess the moratorium wasn't such a bad idea after all.
This was a production rig, not a drilling rig like Deepwater Horizon.
Another spill that the U.S. taxpayers will have to pay, more pollution to our environment. Why are we still trying to drill off of our coast again? Seems that no one learns their lesson.
Really! Why drill our own when we can just give twice as much to the Middle East? I mean, they need the money, and we'll still need the plastic, how dare we be the richest most productive country on Earth? We should be living like Botswanians, now shouldn't we? Eating bugs and crapping in the street works just fine, huh?
your kidding me right???? another F-ing one for real
Here we go again!
Before we jump to conclusions and say we have to ban all offshore drilling, remember that there are thousands of oil rigs out there running just fine and this is only the 2nd major explosion this year.
If we banned drilling, then by the same logic we should ban all air travel since there is usually at least 1 or 2 aircraft that crash every year, even though thousands of others operate just fine.
"Only" the 2nd explosion this year? Excuse me if I think that's two too many. I fully understand that until we can shake our dependence on oil the drilling will continue – but please don't make light of this by using the word "only. Instead, let's get behind putting our resources into renewable energies. The Obama Administration has been trying; now let's make the obstructionists move already!
Yes, but a plane crash while unfortunate doesn't destroy ocean ecosystems or the livelihoods of the people who make their living from the sea.
There have been 4 blown wells in 3 mos...Two exploded and two blew and were spewing oil everywhere...Only a miracle they did not blow up too..Thats not enough for you????
Someone is doing this.
I tend to agree with you Frank. This is not coincidence. These things are out where terrorists that are operating from large ships or from Mexico can get to them and blow them up. Of course it could be an accident, but...
Terrorists? Are you that naive to believe that a terrorist would be interested in supporting the liberal mission of this nation's leader? Have you considered that it would be someone trying to promote the liberal agenda of "going green"? Think for a second. What do gasoline-burning vehicles emit? CO2. What do plants use as part of photosynthesis to grow? CO2. Have rainforests increased or decreased as a result of carbon emissions? Increased. Is there a carbon cycle that works codependently with an oxygen cycle that helps us to breath? Yes. The liberals want us to stop using fossil fuels to cut off our imports. Nothing wrong with cutting off our imports. The tactic is just wrong.
Drill, baby, Drill
Ohh...not AGAIN! Wanna bet that this one was deliberate? Naw, should'nt put that thought out there, but it seems a bit strange that something like this would happen so soon after the last one.
WHEN are we going to learn from all of this? When the entire gulf is a dead zone?
Any of you "drill, baby, drill" crowd want to comment?
Oh Jesus, you've GOT to be kidding me! **sighs** Here we go again....
Holy shyte. Not again. Damn well better be in shallow water, but given it's 80 miles offshore that's unlikely. Prayers for those missing and for the entire gulf coast. Another nightmare begins.
Can anyone say 'renewable energy' Wind Energy, Solar Energy. Recycleable Energy."
Let me know when you invent a windmill powered car. Id love to see one.
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