5 Missing In Pittsburg County Drilling Rig Explosion Presumed Dead
PITTSBURG COUNTY, Oklahoma - The search continues for five workers who went missing following a gas rig explosion in Pittsburg County.
Monday night, local emergency management says it's shifted from a rescue to a recovery mission.
Those five are presumed dead tonight.
Seventeen others were rescued from the scene and 16 were able to walk away, but one had to be flown to a Tulsa hospital.
Patterson UTI, which owns the rig, is contacting the employees' families.
Greater Refuge United Pentecostal has become the command post and ray of hope for the families of the workers, and the pastor says this is exactly what his congregation needs to be
doing to help.
“Tragedy that happens of this nature, you've got to imagine what the families are going through,” said Refuge United Pentecostal Church Pastor George Mantooth.
Mantooth oversaw the family command center for those with relatives at the explosion site. Seventeen people got out safe; five others weren't as fortunate.
“When the first responders showed up, the workers from the drilling rig were walking down the road away from the well,” said Pittsburg County Emergency Manager Kevin Enloe.
Since then, specialized crews have been on scene to make sure the windy weather didn't spread the flames.
“They're just checking everything,” Enloe explained. “It's still cooling down. There still is a lot of gas coming out of the wellhead.”
But the human impact of the explosion has been impossible to contain,
“It's hard to give people hope when they tell you it's no longer a rescue mission, it's now recovery,” Mantooth stated.
But he says the camaraderie has really come through during this difficult time.
“Generally, on the rigs, they work together a lot,” he said. “They are a family and they was very good to one another and they was there for one another.”
He says even after 20 years at the pulpit, this is one part of his ministry that remains difficult.
“This is one part of the ministry that is always the hardest, but it's what God calls you to do so you do your dead level best that you can to be there for people,” said Mantooth.
Some of the worker's families are local but others are from out of town.
The names of the five that are presumed dead are not being released at this time