Oil rig explodes in Louisiana Lake Pontchartrain critically injuring 5

Photo: Matthew Hinton / The Advocate via AP

(NBC News) An oil rig exploded on a Louisiana lake Sunday night, injuring seven people, five of them critically, while another person remained unaccounted, authorities said.

The explosion on Lake Pontchartrain was reported at 7:18 p.m. (8:18 p.m. ET) about 1½ miles from shore, authorities said at a briefing late Sunday. Rescue efforts were still underway, they said.

The cause remained unknown, and authorities said it was too soon to tell whether any oil had spilled. Ben Zahn, the mayor of nearby Kenner, said no homes were threatened.

Mike Guillot, director of emergency services at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, said that five patients were in critical condition at University Medical Center and that two others were listed as stable at East Jefferson. All suffered blast-type injuries and burns, he said.

The Coast Guard said it was coordinating search efforts for a missing man.

Authorities said they didn’t yet know which company operated the rig in an unincorporated part of Jefferson Parish, but they said they had been told that workers were cleaning a chemical on the platform when the explosion occurred.

Jefferson Parish Fire Chief Dave Tibbetts said the platform was used to transfer oil. He said that if any was flowing, the first objective would be to stop it, cool it and let it burn off.