Two dead in North Sea gas rig pressure blast

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Two people were killed and one seriously injured on Friday in an accident on a North Sea gas rig operated by France's GDF Suez, the coastguard said.

"We received a call at 9.50am that two people were dead and one seriously injured after an accident during testing of rig equipment," coastguard spokesman Peter Verburg told AFP.

The injured man, of Dutch nationality, was flown by helicopter to a hospital in northern Dutch city Leeuwarden where he is in a stable condition.

GDF Suez said in a statement that the accident occurred "during pressure tests on equipment" on the rig around 60 miles (100km) northwest of the Dutch coast.

"At the time of the incident the platform was out of production and depressurised," the company said.

A GDF Suez spokesman told AFP that the accident happened during "tests on a heat exchanger that was pressurised with water".

"There was a breach in the exchanger for an as yet unknown reason and that hit three people," the spokesman said.

There were 16 people on the rig at the time, including the casualties.

The coastguard said that police were at the scene to investigate the deadly accident.

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