Two people have been reported missing by the U.S. Coast Guard after the reported barge explosion that happened around 4:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. The explosion has also led to the closure of the Port of Corpus Christi.
USCG reported that an oil spill from the stricken barge was containable after the fire had been extinguished on Friday evening.
A video recap from KRIS 6 News revealed that the Coast Guard was still searching for two missing crew members as of Friday evening. The officials also reported that they had not recovered any bodies yet, although other conflicting reports indicated that one crew member had been killed and that USCG crews were still searching for two missing people.
According to officials, a fire aboard the barge had been extinguished and crews were on-scene to monitor the vessel in case it flares up again. A safety zone had been set up around the barge for safety concerns.
Reports from USCG indicated that an oil spill around two miles by a quarter mile wide, adding that the spill was considered containable. At around 5 p.m. crews were at the scene setting up oil booms. Buschard Transportation company based in New York is reported to have owned the stricken barge.
Rick Adams also reported that there is no hull breach. There are 133,000 barrels of sour crude in the tank. The fire emanating from the scene originates from the controlled fuel burn, not the oil.
Reports released by Captain Bobby Grumbles, from the Aransas-Corpus Christi Pilots Association, revealed that the explosion happened while the tug was pulling in anchor about 3.25 miles offshore. However, there was no pilot on board when it exploded.
Grumbles said that the vessel was inbound, heading to the Gulf Copper Ship Yard in Port Aransas. The tank remains anchored as it burns off fuel while the tug remains nearby, detached and also anchored.
Investigations are being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office as they monitor the accident site. Reports released by Rick Adams, with the City of Port Aransas revealed that one has been confirmed dead, while another one is missing.
Rockport residents reported that the area was shaken by what witnesses termed as an explosion around 4:30 Friday morning. Confirmation has been issued by Rockport police department indicating that the Coast Guard is working a tanker on fire offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, near Port Aransas.
The tanker, which was carrying 140,000 barrels of crude oil, was waiting to cross the sand bar with assistance from a tug boat when the incident occurred. Six crew members have been pulled away from the scene while two members remain unaccounted for.
Two brothers, identified as Ralph and Phil Alvarado, of San Antonio, were fishing when they witnessed the event. Ralph Alvarado said he heard multiple explosions and saw a large mushroom cloud. The tug boat has been disconnected from the barge and no spillage of crude oil has been reported, also there’s still no confirmation of an explosion.