It was a pristine day on the Gulf of Mexico, and the crew of the Deepwater Horizon had much to celebrate—they were nearing completion of a difficult oil well ahead of schedule, and a crew of BP execs had landed that morning to laud their safety record. Then at 10pm, a methane bubble charged up the pipes, found a spark, and the entire ship blew. “We all were sure we were going to die,” one superviser tells the New York Times.
“The rig blew a few more explosions after that and began to burn down,” one witness later wrote. “Some of the rig began dripping into the water and the platform tilted in and turned RED HOT.” The crew pulled away in lifeboats—but not before witnessing co-workers fling themselves off the burning rig. As they began the long trek back to shore, the Times reports, one question haunted them, and does still: What went wrong?