An explosion and fire ripped through a Gulf oil platform Friday as workers used a cutting torch, sending four people to a hospital with burns and leaving two missing in waters off Louisiana.
Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski told a news conference in New Orleans the well was not producing at the time and no oil was leaking. A small amount of oil spilled from the rig when workers using a torch cut into a 22-metre-long, 76-millimetre-wide line on the platform. Cubanski said a sheen 800-metres long and 200 metres wide was reported in the area.
"It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now," Cubanski said.
The fire had since been extinguished, said Coast Guard spokesman Drake Fore. He said Coast Guard aircraft and boats were searching for two missing people. Nobody was believed killed in the fire, but Cubanski said 11 people were flown from the platform to area hospitals or for treatment on shore by emergency medical workers.
The platform is for oil production from an established well, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was drilling an exploratory well for oil giant BP in mile-deep water when it blew up and triggered a massive oil spill in 2010. That site is well to the east of Friday's explosion.