Gas drilling rig on fire

A fire has broken out on a rig drilling for gas in the Gulf of Mexico, 55 miles off the Louisiana coast, US officials say.

Gas drilling rig on fire in Gulf of Mexico

A fire has broken out on a rig drilling for gas in the Gulf of Mexico, 55 miles (85km) off the Louisiana coast, US officials say.

A blowout at the well on Tuesday morning forced the evacuation of 44 workers from the platform.

US Coast Guard and federal safety officials are still trying to assess the potential hazards.

The area was hit by the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in 2010, leaking millions of gallons of oil.

Eleven oil rig workers were killed in what was the worst US offshore disaster.

The latest blowout was not of that magnitude, officials told the Associated Press news agency.

The portable drilling rig – which operates in shallow waters of 154 feet (47m) is owned by Hercules, a contractor for the exploration and production company Walter Oil & Gas Corporation.

One Coast Guard cutter, Pontano, is near the scene and another, Cypress, is travelling to the area.

The fire continues to burn but the rig structure is still intact, Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Carlos Vega told BBC News.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Eileen Angelico, told AP it was not clear what had caused the gas to ignite.

Industry experts are at the scene to try to work out how to bring the well fire under control.

Source: BBC.

Image source: BSEE.

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