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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Mexican oil rig accident kills 18
File photo from Pemex shows a platform similar to the one involved in Tuesday's accident
The platform involved in the accident was similar to this one
At least 18 workers have died after huge waves knocked a drilling platform and an oil rig together in the Gulf of Mexico, setting off gas and oil leaks.

Mexico's state oil company, Pemex, says 61 people were rescued from life rafts but several are still missing at sea.

Pemex said it would take several days to control the leaks but they were not as bad as originally feared.

The bad weather forced the Mexican authorities to close the main oil exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico.

During a heavy storm on Tuesday night, the Usumacinta drilling platform collided with an adjacent platform, setting off crude oil and natural gas leaks.

Pemex said there were wind gusts of up to 130km/h (80mph) and waves of up to eight metres (26ft) at the time of the collision.

No choice

One survivor told Mexico's Televisa network that they only abandoned the rig after the leaking gas became unbearable and they had no air left in their emergency breathing devices.

"We knew the conditions at sea were bad but there was no other choice," Eder Ortega Flores said.

Workers jumped into life rafts but it was only after several hours that rescue crews in helicopters and boats were able to reach them.

The bad weather forced the closure of Mexico's most important oil ports, including at Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, which supply much of the country's crude oil exports to the US.

They were not expected to re-open before Thursday.



SEE ALSO
Country profile: Mexico
20 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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