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16 dead, 37 missing after Russian oil platform sinks

The drilling platform sank in 20 minutes yesterday while being towed during a storm in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia’s east coast.

Undated handout image of the Kolskaya oil platform in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Undated handout image of the Kolskaya oil platform in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Image: AP Photo/Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, HO

HOPES OF FINDING more survivors of a capsized oil platform off Russia’s east coast are fading as rescue efforts are being hampered by extreme weather conditions.

Of the 67 people on board at the time of yesterday’s incident, 14 have been rescued and 16 have died. Dozens more are missing.

The rig’s owner Andrei Bobrov said at today’s press conference that search teams have spotted a life raft from the air which could be carrying up to 15 people. However, he said it was unclear whether there was anyone alive on board.

Interfax reports that Bobrov said a recovery team is being sent to the raft.

The Kolskaya drilling platform was being towed when struck by severe waves yesterday which smashed the vessel’s portholes. Survivor Sergei Grauman told Russian television that everyone had rushed onto the deck after the portholes were damaged and struggled to fix them.

“It all felt like a movie,” he said.

The rig sank within 20 minutes, according to Russia Today, as efforts were underway to evacuate those on board via helicopter.

Fourteen of those are thought to have been passengers, although under Russian law non-crew members are not supposed to be on board such a platform.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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