Oil rig tragedy - 32 crew members from Murmansk
4 people were killed and 49 went missing when the “Kolskaya” oil rig overturned in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East on Sunday morning. 32 crew members come from Murmansk Oblast.
The Kolskaya drilling rig with 67 people aboard was being towed in a severe storm when it overturned and sank some 200 km off the Sakhalin Island. The waves were 5-6 meters high and the water temperature around 1C. 14 people were rescued after the accident, four were found dead and the rest are still missing, RIA Novosti reports.
The icebreaker “Magadan” and the tug “Neftegaz-55” took part in the search and rescue operations, but the tug had to return to the mainland because of technical problems. Also one airplane and two helicopters are taking part in the search for survivors.
“Kolskaya” belongs to the Murmansk-based company Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka and had just finished work under a contract with energy giant Gazprom in the Sea of Okhotsk.
32 of the crew members are from Murmansk, where an operational staff has been set up to help the crew members’ relatives. Psychologists are being flown in from St. Petersburg, RIA Novosti reports.
Investigators have said they are considering the rig's tow in disregard of a severe storm as the most likely reason for the accident.
The drilling rig, which is 69 meters long and 80 meters wide and can take up to 102 people on board, was built in 1985 in Finland. The rig started its operations in September to drill and test the Pervoocherednaya well on the West-Kamchatka licensed block of the Okhotsk Sea shelf.
The regional emergencies service has said the accident poses no threat to the environment. - Fuel stocks at the Kolskaya drilling rig are minimal and are stored in hermetically sealed tanks, and there is no danger of a fuel spill, the service said.
Antoher hard blow for Murmansk
Today's tragedy in the Far East is one of many serious accidents to hit Murmansk in the last couple of decades. Less than one month ago a bus carrying 23 trawler crew members from Murmansk slid off the road and crashed outside Hammerfest in Northern Norway. One person was killed and three seriously injured.
The largest accident to hit Murmansk in recent years was when the nuclear-powered submarine "Kursk" sank in 2000, with 118 crew members aboard.