One person is dead, a dozen are missing and six others have been rescued after a commercial lift boat used to service oil rigs capsized amid hurricane-force winds south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.
Rescuers in Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and volunteer civilian vessels were searching for the dozen people missing in the Gulf of Mexico after the 129-foot (39 m) commercial vessel, Seacor Power, capsized in rough seas eight miles (13 km) off Port Fouchon around 4:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) Tuesday, officials said.
Searchers were “saturating the area,” said Coast Guard Captain Will Watson, who added that some people might still be trapped on the wrecked vessel.
“We are giving everything we have,” he said.
“Unfortunately one person was recovered deceased on the surface of the water,” he said, adding that winds were about 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) to 90 mph in 7- to 9-foot seas at the time of the accident.
Two people were rescued by the Coast Guard and four others were pulled from the water by other vessels, he said.
“My heart and the collective hearts of our team are with the families,” Watson said, adding that they were working to find other survivors.
Strong winds with some hail and flooding caused by a line of thunderstorms are expected to continue in southeastern Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service. A flash flood watch is in effect through Thursday morning.
A lift boat, also called a “barge,” has 250-foot extendable legs that can reach the seafloor. It is often used by energy companies for offshore construction projects or oil rig maintenance.
The vessel is owned by Seacor Marine, a Houston-based transportation company.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of the vessel capsizing and are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to support rescue efforts to locate our valuable crew members,” a spokeswoman told Reuters.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to all involved,” she said.