Two die as Russian drilling rig overturns at sea

A criminal probe into the accident has been launch.

Moscow: At least two people were killed and 14 rescued after a drilling rig with 67 people aboard overturned in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East, authorities said Sunday.

"...14 people were lifted from the rig; all of them are alive and their condition is satisfactory. Also, the bodies of two people without any signs of life were found. They will be lifted aboard the Magadan ice breaker," Taimuraz Kasayev, a spokesman for the regional emergencies service, said.

The drilling rig owned by the Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka exploration company, which is working under a contract with Russian energy giant Gazprom, overturned 200 km off Russia`s Sakhalin Island early Sunday.

Russia`s transport ministry told Prime news agency that "of the 67 people aboard the Kolskaya rig, 53 are crew members and 14 are workers and support staff".

"A helicopter of the Aviashelf company has flown to the rescuers` help and is already at the scene of the rescue operation while another helicopter is on its way to the scene of the accident," the ministry said.

The regional emergencies service has said the accident poses no threat to the environment.

"Fuel stocks at the Kolskaya drilling rig are minimal and are stored in hermetically sealed tanks, and there is no danger of a fuel spill," Kasayev said.

A criminal probe into the accident has been launched, the regional investigation committee said.

The drilling rig, which can take up to 102 people on board, was built in 1985 in Finland. The rig started its operations in September to drill and test the Pervoocherednaya well on the West-Kamchatka licensed block of the Okhotsk Sea shelf.

The rig, which is 69 meters long and 80 meters wide, was intended to drill a well at a depth of 3,500 meters within three and a half months.

The rig has fully submerged into water amid a strong storm, Kasayev said.


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