The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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November 17, 2012

Coast Guard: Body found near burned Gulf oil rig

NEW ORLEANS — Divers hired by the owner of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that caught fire recovered a body near the site Saturday evening, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the rig's owner.

Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said late Saturday that the unidentified person was found by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy who were inspecting the platform. Vega said the Coast Guard was turning over the remains to local authorities.

John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, said in an email late Saturday that the body is that of one of two crew members missing since an explosion and fire on the oil platform Friday morning. Hoffman said the body was found by a contracted dive vessel at 5:25 p.m. CST.

"Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker," Hoffman wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

The news came shortly after the Coast Guard suspended a 32-hour-long search for the two missing workers that covered 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Grand Isle, La.

"We have saturated the search area several times — the 1400-square-foot area," Vega said. "We saw no signs of life. We have suspended the search and it is pending further development. If we receive any credible information that there are signs of life, we can resume the search at any time."

Four other workers who were severely burned remained at Baton Rouge General Medical Center on Saturday night.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said the Guard's search was ended early Saturday evening. Helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft had been searching by air, while cutters and boat crews searched the sea.

"The search is suspended pending further developments," the Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday night.

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