Search on for 3 missing after Louisiana pipeline blast that killed 3 others, wounded 2

Friday, October 13th 2006, 11:10 am
By: News On 6

JEANERETTE, La. (AP) _ An aerial search resumed at dawn Friday for three people missing after a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed three others off the coast of Louisiana.

The blast occurred when a tugboat pushing two barges hit the pipeline Thursday about two miles from shore and 100 miles southwest of New Orleans, the Coast Guard said.

A man on a nearby beach saw flames shooting into the sky and called authorities, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Nyx Cangemi.

``There were 100-foot flames at that point,'' Cangemi said.

Choppy waters hampered the search, but the water in the area was only about 5 feet or 6 feet deep, and there were offshore oil and gas platforms that survivors might have reached, said Maj. Tim Cossey of the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office.

``They can survive for a long time out there,'' Cossey said.

The tug boat had two people aboard, and six people were on the barge, Cangemi said.

Coast Guard rescue crews recovered three bodies and two survivors. One survivor was hospitalized with severe burns, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Veronica Bandrowsky. The other was not injured, she said.

Gulfport Energy Corp. said the accident involved two contracted vessels working for the company in a large energy field. The company said all its own employees were accounted for but it was still trying to get information on its contract workers.

``We are deeply concerned for all those involved,'' Gulfport CEO Jim Palm said in a statement.