Rig Explodes in Louisiana Lake Pontchartrain, One Worker Still Missing

By  | 

LOUISIANA -- (WTVY) The Coast Guard resumed searching the choppy waters of Lake Pontchartrain for a worker Monday who went missing when a Louisiana storage rig exploded with such power it rattled houses in towns more than a mile away with a sonic boom.

Sheriff Joe Lopinto of Jefferson Parish said they have been in touch with the worker's family since the blast on Sunday and said they would look for him for "as long as it takes."
Lopinto identified him Monday as Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas.

Four of the seven people injured in the explosion were released from hospitals on Monday, Lopinto said.

Meanwhile, rescue workers were able to make it onto the still-smoldering rig and shut off the main gas line.

"We have control of the situation at this time," Lopinto said.

The rig, which is owned by Clovelly Oil Co. of New Orleans, is located about a mile-and-a-half north of Kenner, Louisiana.

The first indication that something was wrong came at 7:18 p.m. Sunday when local law enforcement was inundated with 911 calls from Kenner residents reporting the blast.

"Because this was a mile and a half away, some Kenner residents did feel a sonic boom," one official said.

While the exact cause of the explosion is still not clear, officials in the aftermath said they suspect it was touched off after cleaning chemicals on the platform ignited during some kind of maintenance work.

Officials earlier described it as an oil rig, but it is a natural gas storage rig.