Drilling Rig Collapses In Gulf Of Mexico

A drilling rig just off the Chandeleur Islands collapsed Thursday afternoon, dumping dozens of workers into the Gulf of Mexico and sending at least two to coast hospitals.

The Coast Guard said all 41 people on board the rig went into the water. Supply vessels in the area quickly rescued about 39 and the other two were picked up by Coast Guard helicopters and flown to a Gulfport hospital, Lt. Rob Wyman said. Early reports indicated there were injuries but there was no word on whether any were serious.

"It looks like everyone on rig has been accounted for,'' Wyman said. "We did receive reports of injuries. We don't have any reports of the extent of the injuries.''

The Coast Guard was staying in constant contact with the three commercial vehicles that assisted in the rescue to see if helicopters were needed to airlift any further injured rig workers, Wyman said.

The rig collapsed about 3 p.m. but the cause was not known. It went over about 28 miles south of Horn Island.

The rig was identified as the Parker 14J, owned by Parker Drilling USA. A spokesman for Parker Drilling did not return calls seeking comment Thursday evening.

The jackup rig - a combination of a rig and barge - has 43 beds, a helicopter landing pad and a sick bay. Its three legs can be lowered to a stationary position on the seabed; then with continued jacking, the barge and rig are lifted out of the water into working position. It was not known what position the barge was in when it collapsed.

Wyman said there were no reports of pollution.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)