The US coast guard and multiple other boats have rescued six people from a commercial platform vessel that capsized off the coast of Louisiana in a sudden and severe storm on Tuesday night and are still searching for more, the agency said on Wednesday.
The coast guard vessel Heartland said in a statement at around 8pm on Tuesday that it and several other vessels responded to an area of the Gulf of Mexico south of Grand Isle after the 129ft Seacor Power overturned. A search plane also flew in to assist.
“There was a microburst of weather that came through the area at the time of the incident,” coast guard petty officer 2nd class Jonathan Lally said.
“I don’t know whether that that was the cause, but we can say is that inclement weather did hit the area at the time.“
A search by air and sea was ongoing on Wednesday, he said.
The Lafourche parish president, Archie Chaisson III, confirmed that 18 people were on board before the Seacor Power took on water in rough seas, the New Orleans Advocate reported.
The Seacor Power is a commercial lift vessel, designed to become an offshore platform by dropping three towering legs down to the sea floor.
Hit by the storm, it flipped over, with one of the legs pointed awkwardly skyward as rescuers searched for the workers in rough seas.
A witness, Simon Bruce, published a post on social media saying he was on a boat near the Seacor Power at the time of the capsizing and never heard so many mayday calls at once in his life. Bruce’s post said other boats had also flipped and were taking on water.
“Please pray for the lost,” he added.
New Orleans and areas off Louisiana’s shore were being hit by an unexpectedly strong storm that overturned vessels and damaged property, particularly in coastal towns.