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Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinks, sparking pollution fears

• Crude oil could be spilling into waters off Louisiana coast
• Hopes fade for 11 workers missing after explosion and fire

Eleven US workers who are missing after a fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off Louisiana are feared dead Link to this video

A deepwater oil platform that burned for more than a day after an explosion has sunk in the Gulf of Mexico as hopes faded of finding 11 missing workers.

The sinking of the Deepwater Horizon could release more than 1,135,600 litres of crude oil a day into the water. The environmental hazards would be greatest if the spill were to reach the Louisiana coast, about 50 miles (80km) away.

Crews searched by air and water for the missing workers, hoping they had managed to reach a lifeboat, but one relative said family members had been told it was unlikely any of the missing had survived Tuesday night’s blast. More than 100 workers escaped the explosion and fire. Four were critically injured.

Carolyn Kemp said her grandson, Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, was among the missing. He would have been on the drilling platform when it exploded.

“They’re assuming all those men who were on the platform are dead,” Kemp said. “That’s the last we’ve heard.”

A fleet of supply vessels had shot water into the rig in an attempt to control the fire enough to keep the rig afloat and crude oil and diesel fuel from escaping.

A coast guard officer, Katherine McNamara, said she did not know whether crude oil was spilling into the gulf. The rig also carried 2,649,700 litres of diesel fuel, but that would be likely to evaporate if it had not been consumed by the fire.

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said crews saw a sheen of what appeared to be a crude oil mix on the surface of the water. She said there was no evidence that crude oil had been released since the rig sank, but officials are not sure what is going on underwater. They have dispatched a vessel to check.

Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, said the oil would do much less damage at sea than it would if it hit the shore.

“If it gets landward, it could be a disaster in the making,” she said.

Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of response and restoration, said the spill was not expected to come onshore in the next three to four days, unless the wind changed.

Crews searching for the missing workers have covered the search area by air 12 times and by boat five times.

Family members of one missing worker, Shane Roshto, started legal action in New Orleans yesterday accusing Transocean of negligence. The action said Roshto was thrown overboard by the explosion and was feared dead, though it did not indicate how family members knew what happened. The suit also names BP. Transocean and BP were not immediately available for comment.

Guardian Article

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