53 Feared Dead in Russian Oil Rig Disaster

Huge wave sank platform as it was being towed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Larry-Crehore
Posted Dec 19, 2011 2:00 AM CST
Russian Oil Platform Sinks While Being Towed
The oil drilling platform "Kolskay" has capsized in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia's east coast.   (AP Photo/Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, HO)

(Newser) – Up to 53 people are believed to have perished in icy waters north of Russia's Sakhalin Island after an oil rig sank while it was being towed. Seven of the 67 people who were on board have been confirmed dead. Fourteen others were plucked from the water alive immediately after the accident but rescuers working in freezing, stormy conditions admit that the chances of finding any more survivors are approaching zero, the AP reports.

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The Russian Transportation Ministry says the huge drilling platform began sinking after a huge wave smashed some of its equipment and portholes in the crew's dining quarters. The wave ripped lifeboats away from their moorings, leaving the crew with no way of escape. "This is a terrible disaster which took the crew unawares,” said the governor of the Murmansk region, where dozens of the missing crew members come from. (Read more Russia stories.)

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