One man is dead, one is missing and four others suffered burns after an offshore oil platform off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire Friday while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform, officials said.
The owner of an oil platform that caught fire said Sunday that it has expanded its search for a missing worker, and doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.
Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors said.
Three dive boats are now working around the burned platform and Plaquemines Parish sheriff’s deputies are checking beaches, said rig owner, Black Elk Energy of Houston in a statement.
It said all helicopter companies flying in the area have been asked to keep an eye out, and a search-and-rescue dog will be brought to the platform Monday.
Officials found the body of one missing worker Saturday and turned him over to the Jefferson Parish coroner.
“We remain focused on the victims and their families, including those injured,” Black Elk’s statement said.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington has said all the workers are from the Philippines.
The Coast Guard has suspended its own search after checking 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.
John Hoffman, the president and chief executive of Black Elk Energy, said they found the body near where the explosion occurred. The dead, missing and wounded workers were employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS), he said.
GIS Chief Executive Mark Pregeant released a statement saying the company notified the families of those involved but was not releasing their names.
Pregeant’s statement, however, said the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown and that “initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate.”
Black Elk said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, which hadn’t been operating since August.
Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company. The company holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms, according to the company’s website.