News World US coast guard searches for survivors after oil exploration vessel capsizes

US coast guard searches for survivors after oil exploration vessel capsizes

Twelve people are missing and at least one person is dead after an ungainly oil and gas exploration boat capsized off Louisiana. Photo AAP
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The US Coast Guard is searching for 12 people still missing off the coast of Louisiana in rough seas after a commercial boat capsized in hurricane-force winds.

There were 19 people on board the 129ft (39m) ‘lift boat’ when it flipped over about 12km from Port Fourchon on Tuesday afternoon (local time).

One person has been found dead and the coast guard has so far rescued six survivors. Divers are now on their way to the scene.

Coast guard captain Will Watson said winds were 130 to 145km/h and seas were 2.1 to 2.7 metres when the Seacor Power lift vessel overturned.

“That’s challenging under any circumstance,” Mr Watson said.

US coast guards pull a survivor from the water after a commercial boat flipped over off the Louisiana coast. Photo: AP

The bulky vessel is designed to become an offshore platform by dropping three massive legs down to the sea floor, after it travels to a location with its legs up in the air. Port Fourchon is a major base for the US oil and gas industry.

Asked about the prospects of the missing crew, Mr Watson said: “We are hopeful. We can’t do this work if you’re not optimistic, if you’re not hopeful.”

The relationship of all on board to ship owner Seacor Marine was not immediately clear. The ship, which can work in up to 60 metres of water, can carry a crew of 12, two “special personnel” and 36 passengers, according to the company website.

While noting the harsh weather conditions, Mr Watson said its role in the capsizing was under investigation.

-with agencies