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18 December 2011

Storm capsizes floating Russian oil rig with 67 people on board

Rescuers have saved 14 of the 67 people who were on board a floating oil rig which capsized in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia’s Far East, according to latest reports. Two more have been found dead.

The Kolskoe rig was being towed by an icebreaker and a tow boat to Sakhalin Island after finishing its drill mission when the disaster happened. A distress signal was sent from it on Sunday morning.

A rescue operation is underway. The Emergencies Ministry says 14 people have been saved and two found dead. Earlier it said two of the people picked up from the icy water were in a critical condition.

All workers at the rig have warm swimming suits and life vests, the rescue service says. There were also four inflatable rafts on the facility.

Conditions at sea have been very severe lately with waves up to six meters high and winds of 70 kilometers per hour in the area. The storm made the rig trip over. In fact this happened as helicopters were preparing to evacuate 53 crew members and 14 passengers from it, because staying there was deemed too risky.

The rig is now 200 kilometers off Sakhalin Island.

The Kolskoe rig was built in 1985. At 70 meters long and 80 wide, it is one of the largest oil rigs in Russia. It was due to set sail for drilling off the Vietnamese coast at the end of its current mission.

- RT