A large explosion led to a fire at the KU-Alpha oil rig off the coast of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon
A huge explosion has cast thick clouds of smoke in the air at an oil rig in Mexico, raising concerns of multiple casualties.
Alarming photos from off the coast of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico show a rig ablaze, with heavy black smoke spreading up into the sky.
It is currently unclear what caused the explosion on the KU-Alpha platform.
Workers are racing to close valves to prevent further damage to the oil facilities, Campeche reported, which lie close to where one of the worst spills in the industry’s history took place.
Unofficial reports suggest six people have been injured in the explosion and resultant fire before being transported via helicopter to a hospital in Ciudad del Carmen.
Works on the rig, which was in use at the time of the explosion, are being evacuated to floats, Reuters reports.
The Cantarell Complex of five oil fields lies beneath the Bay of Campeche.
In 2003, it was the second most productive oil field in the world, then supplying about two thirds of Mexico’s crude oil output, but it went into a steep decline soon thereafter.
On June 3, 1979, Ixtoc I, an exploratory oil well located in the bay, suffered a blowout that caused a catastrophic explosion, resulting in what has been ranked as the third largest unintentional oil spill in history.
In early July Pemex, which owns the KU-Alpha platform, had to put out a fire in an underwater pipeline connecting two platforms.
The line channels more than 40% of the 1.68milliion barrels of crude oil the firm pumps every day, Noticias reports.
The fire was particularly dramatic, with bright orange flames jumping out of water resembling molten lava.
It was dubbed an “eye of fire” on social media due to the blaze’s circular shape, as it raged a short distance from the Pemex platform.
More to follow.