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1980: North Sea platform collapses
At least 120 oil rig workers are feared dead after a North Sea accommodation platform collapsed during gales.

Reports say a massive wave hit one of the legs of the platform, causing it to break and send the 208 people on board into the sea at around 1830 GMT.

Some were able to make it to the lifeboats before the platform fully capsized while others were thrown into the sea as the rig began to tilt.

Most of those missing from the Alexander Kielland platform, which was situated 235 miles east of Dundee, are Norwegian.

The rig is now bottom up after capsizing completely and dropping people into the sea
Phillips Petroleum spokesman
There were some Britons and Americans on board. Many of the crew are thought to have been in the platform's cinema at the time of impact.

A spokesman for Phillips Petroleum, the American owners of the rig the platform was connected to, said: "The rig is now bottom up after capsizing completely and dropping people into the sea."

RAF and Norwegian helicopters have been sent to the area along with local ships who have been asked to help with the rescue.

An RAF Nimrod, complete with searchlights and flares is on its way to the scene.

However, poor weather conditions are making the rescue very difficult and there are reports of people being swept away as they attempt to reach rescue boats or neighbouring rigs.

The Norwegian Government is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the disaster.

The accommodation platform contains bedrooms, lounges, kitchens and leisure facilities for workers. It was attached to the Edda oil rig in the Ekofisk field where work was being carried out.

The platform is a semi-submersible that floats on two pontoons with legs supporting the main deck. It houses workers while they carry out jobs on the oil rigs.

This is the second major accident at Ekofisk field. A blow-out on the Bravo platform in 1977 caused a mass evacuation of all on-board.

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Oil rig
The rig was 235 miles east of Dundee

Eye-witness accounts of the collapse


In Context
The final death toll when the Alexander Kielland accommodation platform collapsed was 123.

A previously undetected crack in one leg of the platform is thought to be the reason the structure gave way.

Experts believe it took 15 minutes for the platform to collapse into the sea.

It was not until 1983 that the platform was salvaged.

In 1988 a total of 167 oil workers were confirmed dead after a series of explosions on the oil rig Piper Alpha.

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