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Oklahoma Rig Explodes, Leaving Five Missing

An oil rig explosion in Oklahoma has left five workers missing on Monday morning, according to local news reports.

Pittsburg Country Emergency Director Kevin Enloe told KOTV that three medical helicopters had been summoned to quick transfer victims of the explosion to nearby hospitals. Five of 22 workers were still missing as of Monday afternoon.

Several fires are still burning at the site, releasing plumes of smoke into the air near the town of Quinton – 100 miles away from Tulsa and 146 miles from Oklahoma City. Officials had not commented on any injuries or fatalities at the time of this article’s writing.

Contract Driller Patterson-UTI said a few of its workers were missing since the explosion, the second at an Oklahoma oil and gas well in less than a year. The same area saw another explosion at a Trinity Resources site last February.

A Reuters report says the state has several other accidents in recent months as well. A middle-aged man died in a backhoe accident earlier in January. Another energy industry worker died in December after a piece of equipment collapsed near a town called Preston. In November, a failed fitting killed another 36-year-old man during a fracking operation.

The drilling site was a project by Red Mountain Energy, an Oklahoma-based operation. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a state-wide regulatory body, said Red Mountain had authorized a private agency that specializes in rig emergency management to respond to the explosion.

Explosions at pipelines and tankers tend to allow crude oil to pollute the direct surroundings of the troubled area, though spill-related damage at rigs varies depending on the size and location of the burst. Cleanup teams are still assessing the ecological impact of the recent disaster in the East China Sea - the biggest one in decades in the area – after an Iranian oil tanker collided into another Hong Kong-flagged ship.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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