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Azerbaijan mourns ‘many deaths’ after oil rig fire

AFP Photo/Mikhail Mordasov

 

Azerbaijan was on Sunday searching for 29 missing oil workers after a storm caused their offshore oil rig to catch fire, as the president ordered a day of mourning, Agence France-Presse reports.

A fire broke out on the rig in the Caspian following a storm on Friday “leading to many deaths,” said a statement on the official website of President Ilham Aliyev.

“I join the relatives in their grief and designate December 6 as a day of mourning in Azerbaijan,” it quoted him as saying.

The statement was the closest to an official confirmation that 30 workers may have perished at sea when one lifeboat where the crew was taking refuge fell into the water.

Rescue workers had lifted a total of 33 people from the rig, the open water, and from a lifeboat that was suspended 10 metres above the stormy waters.

But the second lifeboat fell into the water and has not been recovered.

So far, one worker’s body has been recovered.

On its Facebook page, SOCAR listed the 62 names of those working on the rig, who were either rescued or missing.

“We are looking for 29 people. Whether they are alive or dead we don’t know. Before we find them we cannot pronounce them dead,” SOCAR vice-president Khoshbakht Yusifzade told journalists at a press conference on Sunday.

 

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