April 22nd, 2010
07:24 PM ET

Coast Guard: Oil rig that exploded has sunk

[Updated at 7:23 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story

[Updated at 1:43 p.m.] An oil rig that has been burning in the Gulf of Mexico has sunk, said Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau of the U.S. Coast Guard.

[Posted at 10:50 a.m.] The U.S. Coast Guard resumed its aerial search Thursday morning for 11 people missing after a "catastrophic" explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, an agency spokeswoman said.

The rig was still ablaze Thursday morning as a plane and helicopter rejoined rescuers' search for survivors of Tuesday night's explosion, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Butler said.

Butler said oil was leaking from the rig at the rate of about 8,000 barrels of crude per day. The Coast Guard is also preparing for possible leaks of up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel, she said, but can do little to protect the environment until the fire is out.

An investigation was underway to determine what caused the blast aboard the rig Deepwater Horizon, which occurred about 10 p.m. (11 p.m. ET) Tuesday.

The mobile rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana when the explosion occurred, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry.

"It obviously was a catastrophic event," O'Berry said.

There were no indications it was a terrorist incident, the Coast Guard said.

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soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Steve Hansen

    A horrendous impact on the sea life of the gulf. As an environmentalist, I see this in a positive light in that it is a small nudge to get away from carbon-based energy.

    What I now am concerned with is who will reimburse the large-scale clean-up. Was this facility a direct operation of one of the big 5 oil yahoos or did they conveniently sub it out thus removing liability? This is a method that Texas likes to use to reduce liability: they sub out contracts so that the subs can use inexperienced faculty, substandard methods/materials, and minimal liability. When disaster strikes, those that subbed out the work have limited financial liability. They simply walk away with a legal finger just wagging at them.

    April 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim Chapman

    Just because there is water around, doesn't mean you can put out a fire like this one.

    What burns in an oil rig / well fire is the fuel source coming up through the rig.

    To put out such a fire the rig needs to be capped off to prevent such a release of fuel. Once the source is gone, the fire will burn itself out.

    What you see as people fighting the fire are actually just attempting to push the flames back enough to allow capping of the well.

    An oil rig fire is very similar in many ways to cooking with a gas stove. You don't put out the flame on the stove, the flame goes out once the fuel source is shut off.

    The volume of water needed to put out a fire this size would basically require submerging the rig. It couldn't be put out while the rig was above the water surface. There was just too much fuel and not enough water that could be put on the fire at the same exact time.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anti Oil Citizen

    This is why Californians don't want to drill off our coast; unlike Southerners, we have the willingness to engage in critical thought, and we use our minds to reason - we understand the consequences of sea-based exploration.

    Pollution threatens to destroy all sea life, and the Sarah Palin thugs want to risk this - because they don't understand that it actually produces oxygen and food that is essential for humans.

    Why is it that CNN does not ask Sarah Palin about her support of expantion of oil drilling and the net affect on consumer behavior and our planet?

    April 24, 2010 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Phillip

    Hello,susan ahern. Obama just okayed drilling so your drill baby drill to sarah palin makes no sense. Obama the flip flopper of all flippers did what he said he wouldn't. So drill baby drill. And drill it real good...

    April 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bren

    I am a lucky resident of coastal Floridia. If enough oil drifts this way, much of Florida as well as other states along the way, can be greatly harmed. I am worried about the danger to the sea life in its path including ancient and endangered turtles who nest on the FL east coast and manatees who spend the winter and leave when it gets warm. If you enjoy the thousand of miles of Florida beaches, snorkling in Key West, deep sea fishing off the coast, surfing in New Smyrna Beach, boating in the Gulf, cruising with Disney World, staying in the oldest city in the U.S.(St. Augustine), collecting sea shells everywhere plus a myriad of other wonderful warm climate ocean activities, pray the oil won"t reach us. We understand that Florida is a national treasure and a state enjoyed by many,many Americans and international visitors. We tried hard this year to prevent oil drilling off the coast but to no avail. Obama has approved drilling 125 miles off the coast. This present oil drift could be an omen of things to come.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hween

    first off. 11 people have perished... i think thats way more important than talking about buying a fish a tank and dropping oil in it.
    second off. the horizon is owned by Transocean, Transocean employees were on the rig, but BP owns the well.
    thrid off. the horizon was in production... but it was NOT pumping gas at the time....
    fouth. i think it's so messed up theres people on here worrying soley about the ocean, yes it's sad... but im pretty sure you're carbon footprint isnt 0%!
    fifth. to sit here and say stop driling, or dont drill that deep, right because oil sits at the top of the earths surface huh?
    sixth; some of you should really go back to science classes.
    seventh; have some respect for mankind. or is it to much for some to think about others and not only yourself?!?! I'm pretty sure Transocean didnt expect this to happen, and im sure this does not happen often. although this industry knows the risks, but it's to early to judge something. gas prices will not rise over ONE rig!!!!!! transocean alone owns 140 other rigs around the world, so dont get your undies in a twist!
    and learn how to show some sympathy.

    gods speed and god bless the souls of these men for doing a job millions of other wouldnt dare!

    April 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    I work for Halliburton and we had 4 of our guys on that rig. Their ok thank god but my heart goes out to the ones not so lucky.

    April 25, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ddecourt

    WOW never seen so many people be such hypocrites , I'm proud to work in the oilfield and proud of how much our industry produces on a daily basis without major incident. Drill baby drill! I guess the tree huggers don't drive anything that runs on fuel! In the past Planes have crashed into towns unexpectedly did we all stop flying? Trains have derailed with chemical consequences that were just as huge as what BP is dealing with,,, should we go back to mules and wagons.. What the he'll is wrong with some of you people! We need to push further we have huge amounts of untapped resources here in our own county why should we be at the mercy of middle east oil!,,,,,,,
    "Reconsider deep wells......" How can you comment like that without understanding any of the work , technology , and research that goes into all this . Do you really think we arbitrarily go around just punching deep holes in a random fashion with no considerations for life or environment can you really be that narrow minded to think BP is just some foreign entity here sucking money out of the ground and running away with it . Without oil the machine that is america stops running that is the hard fact , while I hope additional options do come to light the fact is that we need oil and gas we need it now and we will as a nation for some time.

    April 25, 2010 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    One of my few pleasures in life is to see surfers try and offer up significant comments based on their limited knowledge, IQ, and vocabulary. This one has been a gold mine! To 95% of you out there, you are ignorant idiots!

    April 25, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sufficiently Disturbed

    I agree with Mike. I would ask all those who get the words "to" and "too", "their" and "there", and "are" and "our", to please stop doling out the scientific and socioeconomic advice. And unless you ride a bike and catch and eat your own food and take cold showers, don't pretend that stopping oil production would not have serious consequences in your day to day affairs.

    April 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. eaglewelltester

    i too am a proud oilfield worker... IM not sure which section this rig was one but more thank likely itst in the newly discovered utra deep sector, and there having to drill up to 25k ft and more to hit the potential 7-11 trilliion cubic foot of gas reserves, .. these new deep fields are the most challenging fields to date requiring top of the line engineering , technilogy and saftey. BP is THE # 1 in saftey , so for this to happen is a freak accident.

    Everyone in the field knows the dangers and hazards. but every last one of us is proud of what we do to keep this great country running. We risk life and death everyday to keep your lights on and house warm. just a FYI in the last 6 months in the Haynesville shale in shreveport , LA , at least 6 men have died from accidents in chesappeakes hi pressure drilling due to blow out and pipe kicks.

    MAY GOD BLESS THESE LOST SOULS , and everyone please pay your respects

    April 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anthony Ratcliffe

    Well, that's the price of oil. Death and destruction. Pity people don't see it until it's too late.

    April 26, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. canadianwelltester

    As a Canadian oil worker this hits home hard, the last few months things are getting crazy, but BP is the # 1 in safety I know from the Artic Alaska Field. Safety and Environment is always the first choice and only choice. I hope the families will let time heal all wounds, the patch is a small world.Our thoughts and prayers from the canadian oilpatch to our brothers and sisters in the states. LET R BUCK....

    April 26, 2010 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. JeffInFL

    More proof that the oil industry is dirty and a great risk to the environment. We live on the Florida gulf coast where drilling is prohibited. Big Oil keeps pushing to drill off our coast, they want to drill 3 miles offshore. Big Oil tells us that the new technology will prevent any spills. I wonder if they are lying to us (of course they are). I hope the people of Florida are following the disaster in the Louisiana gulf and push Florida politicians to prevent ruining our beaches and ecosystem. I feel bad for the Louisiana people, especially the fishermen and shrimpers. Their livelihood is at risk. Just like the Exxon Valdez no one will get reimbursed for the damage the oil industry causes. In fact I bet the price of gasoline will go up so the oil company can get their money back. WE NEED GREEN ENERGY NOW BUT WASHINGTON WON'T DO IT BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE POCKETS OF BIG OIL.

    April 26, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Proud WV Coal Miner's Daughter

    As a proud West Virginian Coal Miner's Daughter I can't help but to feel such deep sympathy for the families of the 11 men, especially after our recent tragedy. I pray that God will give them comfort and peace and that the 11 are with our 29 in Heaven in the loving arms of Jesus.
    But to the tree huggers it must be said that if you don't want our services of coal and/or oil just go ahead and throw away your car keys and walk everywhere you go, and then flip your breaker and sit in the dark. If you're not going to appreciate the recources that people like MY daddy, husband, uncles, cousins, and in-laws risk their lives to provide for YOU then don't use them. Simply put. Go ride a bike and buy some candles.

    April 26, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
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