Rescuers on Friday searched for the 11 people missing from the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and crews geared up for a major oil spill, even though there's no immediate evidence of a crude oil leak, a Coast Guard commander told CNN.
"Briefings of the survivors lead us to believe these 11 workers may have been on the rig when the explosion occurred," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, who spoke to CNN's American Morning. "So we'll continue searching through the day. And before we secure for the search, we'll contact the families to let them know."
A one-by-five-mile sheen of crude oil mix had spread across the Gulf of Mexico's surface around the area where the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, erupting in a tremendous blaze and later sinking.
BP officials said Thursday that they did know whether oil or fuel was leaking from the sunken rig. But BP Vice President David Rainey said "it certainly has the potential to be a major spill." BP PLC operates the license on which the rig was drilling,
Landry said there's no crude oil leak at this time from the crude head or the risers adjacent to it, but if there is leakage, crews will be geared to respond.
"We have a one mile by five-mile rainbow sheen and crude oil mix that we've been actively skimming. That is leftover residual from the incident yesterday," she said, referring to the rig sinking.
"We have a remotely operated vehicle that we're getting a visual feed in the command center and monitoring the subsurface and the well head to ensure there is no crude leaking from the ocean floor," she said.
Landry said crews from the public and private sectors have "a very, very practiced response posture" and "our culture is to prepare for the worst case scenario."
"We are taking - pulling out all of the stops and making sure we have prepositioned assets, plenty of boom, shoreline capabilities and response capabilities."
The mobile rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, when the explosion occurred Tuesday night. There were no indications it was a terrorist incident, the Coast Guard said.
Officials said 126 people were on board at the time of the explosion. Of the 115 accounted-for workers, 17 injured were evacuated by helicopter from the rig. An additional 94 people were taken to shore with no major injuries, and
four more were transferred to another vessel, according to the Coast Guard.
The rig involved in the explosion - a mobile unit that moves to different locations in the Gulf of Mexico - had been drilling for oil in its current location since January, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for Minerals Management Service, the agency that regulates the oil industry in federal waters.