At least 18 oil workers were killed when a drilling rig hit an oil platform in stormy weather, spilling gas and oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the state-owned oil company said on Wednesday. Seven workers were still missing.
Rescuers have pulled 61 oil workers to safety from storm-tossed waters but have yet to control the oil leak, Mexico's oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said in a news release.
The workers killed included four Pemex employees, seven employees of the subcontractor company that operated the rig, at least one rescue boat crew member, and six others who worked for other companies, the company said. One woman was among the dead.
The search continued for the seven missing workers. All those rescued were "out of danger," according to the statement.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon issued a statement expressing his "most sincere condolences and solidarity in this moment of pain" to the victims' families and offering them any help the government could provide.
Pemex said it would take three to five days to control the leak caused by Tuesday's accident, but noted that it mainly involved gas.
"The spill of crude oil into the sea has been less than originally thought," the company said.
It was unclear whether the missing workers were floating at sea or in life rafts. The Mexican navy sent eight helicopters and four boats to help in the rescue.
The company said 81 workers and five rescue personnel abandoned a subcontractor's drilling rig after it hit the Kab 101 light-production platform amid 8m waves and winds gusting to 130kph.
The mobile, self-raising drilling rig was preparing to drill a well close to the platform.
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