One missing, 7 injured in rig explosion near US Gulf Coast

CHICAGO (AFP) - Rescuers continued searching the rocky waters of a southern US lake on Monday (Oct 16) for a worker missing since an explosion a day earlier on an oil and natural gas platform.

The offshore oil and gas storage facility, located on Lake Pontchartrain in the southern state of Louisiana, near New Orleans, burst into flames early Sunday (Oct 15) night.

The fire burned overnight and was not extinguished until early Monday afternoon.

"It was reported by one of the platform workers that eight people were aboard at the time of the explosion, and one person did not make it to shore," the US Coast Guard said in a statement.

Rescue workers searched by boats and helicopter Monday for the one missing worker. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said they would continue for "as long as it takes."

"The weather is inhibiting," Lopinto said, because of rough waters.

Of the seven injured, two suffered burns that left them in critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Local authorities believe the explosion was fueled by natural gas and reported no spilled oil visible on the water.

"It was a large fire that burned a whole bunch of metal," Lopinto said.

Investigators were to board the platform Monday to probe the cause of the accident.

US media reported that the facility was undergoing maintenance at the time of the explosion and that the fire began in a storage tank.