13 dead, 40 missing in Russian oil rig disaster: official

19th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Thirteen people from a sunk oil rig off Russia's far eastern Sakhalin island were confirmed dead as searches for survivors went into a second day amid mounting fears that another 40 missing were dead.

"Four bodies have been pulled out of the water," regional spokeswoman for transport prosecutors, Natalia Salkina, told AFP. "Another nine bodies have been located."

A jack-up oil rig, the Kolskaya, with 67 people on board was being towed from the Kamchatka peninsula across the sea towards Sakhalin island when it got caught up in a storm, capsized and sank within 20 minutes on Sunday.

Fourteen crew members were rescued and another four people in wetsuits were located in the water without any signs of life but officials had until now been unable to pull them out.

Emergency authorities have refused to say whether there was any hope of rescuing any more of the missing alive and stubbornly clung to hope that more crew members could be found alive even after spending hours in the frigid waters of the Okhotsk Sea.

"We are hoping for a miracle," Salkina said from the far eastern city of Khabarovsk.

The rescue operation was continuing through the night even though efforts have been hampered by strong winds and waves around five metres (15 feet) high.

© 2011 AFP

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