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Workers missing after oil rig fire

Published 03/04/2015

Emergency boats work to put out a fire at the Abkatun-A Permanente shallow-water oil platform in the Campeche Sound (AP/Pemex)
Emergency boats work to put out a fire at the Abkatun-A Permanente shallow-water oil platform in the Campeche Sound (AP/Pemex)

Three workers are missing following the huge blaze on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that killed four workers and burned for hours.

Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said it became aware of the missing workers when it recounted personnel after Wednesday's fire on the Abkatun-A Permanente shallow-water platform in the Campeche Sound.

One of the missing workers was from Pemex and the other two were employed by contractor Cotemar, the company said.

Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, which injured 16 people, two seriously, and forced the evacuation of 300 workers.

Pemex, Mexico's state oil company, said it managed to avert any significant oil spill.

Officials said environmental damage was avoided because the fire happened on a processing platform where the feeder lines could be turned off, rather than at an active oil well with a virtually unlimited amount of fuel flowing up from the seabed.

Pemex director general Emilio Lozoya said the accident "would have a minimal impact on production, because this was a processing platform", not a producing well.

On Wednesday, helicopters flew workers with bandaged hands and faces and burn marks on their overalls to the nearby city of Ciudad del Carmen, where crowds of relatives of oil workers thronged outside hospitals.

Survivors said the blaze engulfed the platform, forcing people to leap into the sea or flee in evacuation boats.

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