On Tuesday night about 10 pm, there was an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It is about 52 miles southeast of Venice, FL and the smoke and fire are still visible. It was on a rig called the MODU Deepwater Horizon which is owned by Transocean, Ltd., in Houston.

At first, eleven people were missing, of the 126 people believed to be on the rig. The others had escaped safely, according to a Coast Guard spokesman. The eleven missing people have now been found and brought to safety, according to Billy Nungesser, the Plaquemines Parish President.* Seven people were injured and were airlifted to Belle Chasse and then taken by ambulance to West Jefferson Hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman states that three of the injured people have been treated and released and one is still being treated. News reports do not mention the other three. There is a hotline set up for rig workers’ family members – it is 832-587-8554.

At the time of the explosion, the rig was drilling but not in production. It is under contract to BP and a BP spokesman, one Darren Beaubo, says that all BP personnel are safe, although he does not know how many BP workers had been on the rig at the time of the explosion.

The rig was constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard in South Korea. It is 396 feet by 256 feet and the site it is working on is 5,000 feet deep and called the Macondo prospect. The rig can operate in water up to 8,000 feet deep and can hold a crew of 130 people.

The Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service will be investigating together as to possible causes of the explosion.

  • “It’s still too early to tell the cause,” said Greg Panagos, Transocean spokesman. “Our focus right now is on taking care of the people.”

Maritime workers are covered for injuries either by the Merchant Marine Act (called the Jones Act) or by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Like railroad workers, maritime workers do not have to meet all the federal Workers’ Compensation requirements.

Each situation is different and if you have a loved one who was injured while employed as a maritime worker, it is important that you consult an experienced maritime lawyer. You would not want to forfeit any of your rights.

* Later news reports say that the missing people have not all been found.

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