Coast Guard suspends search for missing crew members

Commercial vessels extinguish a platform fire on board West Delta 32 approximately 20 miles offshore Grand Isle, La., in the Gulf of Mexico, Nov. 16, 2012. First responders medevaced nine of the platform's 22 personnel to nearby rigs. U.S. Coast Guard photo

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that late Saturday, Nov. 17, divers found the body of one of two men missing from an oil platform that caught fire Friday morning, Nov. 16.

The Coast Guard suspended the search for two missing platform crew members Saturday, Nov. 17, at approximately 5:25 p.m.

Coast Guard crews searched a 1,400 square-mile area of the Gulf of Mexico for more than 32 hours in an effort to locate the two missing crew members following a platform explosion approximately 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Watchstanders at the 8th Coast Guard District received notification at about 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16, that there was a platform fire on board the shallow-water rig West Delta 32.

Eleven crew members have been medevaced from the Black Elk Energy-owned platform to various local hospitals. Nine additional crew members were safely evacuated off the platform. The fire has been extinguished, but an oil sheen has been spotted in the area.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has established a team to investigate the explosion and fire. The seven-member investigative team includes safety inspectors, engineers, safety management investigators, and law enforcement experts. The investigation report will include recommendations for initiatives to prevent a similar accident in the future.

The search is suspended pending further developments.

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