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Dozens feared dead as oil rig sinks


An oil drilling platform has capsized off Russia's east coast (AP)

An oil drilling platform has capsized off Russia's east coast (AP)

An oil drilling platform has capsized off Russia's east coast (AP)

Time appears to be running out for scores of Russian oil workers still missing the day after their floating platform sank in a storm.

Rafts carrying people have been spotted at the site off Russia's east coast, the owner said , but the government would not confirm the report and it was not clear whether there were survivors.

Workers have already pulled out 10 bodies from the Sea of Okhotsk, and four more are still to be retrieved yet.

Of the 67 men aboard, 14 were pulled alive from the icy waters immediately after the accident and taken to a hospital. Chances of survival are negligible as the water temperature in the area is 1C.

An official at the rig's owner Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka said that rescue vessels have spotted four rafts with people aboard, but it was not clear if they were alive or not.

The Emergencies Ministry said four ships, a helicopter and a plane are in the area searching for the missing men.

Russia produces most of its oil onshore and it has not had any significant oil platform accidents in the past years.

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The floating oil rig capsized on Sunday morning as it was being towed about 120 miles off the coast of Sakhalin Island amid a fierce storm. It started sinking after a strong wave broke some of its equipment and the portholes in the crew's dining room.

One of the survivors, Sergei Grauman, said that the platform's portholes were smashed in a second and the crew had struggled to fix them. "Everyone rushed to the deck," he said. "It all felt like a movie."

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