September 12, 2011 in Nation/World

Seven workers found alive in Gulf

Ten had evacuated boat days ago during storm
E. Eduardo Castillo Associated Press
Nate weakening

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that by Sunday evening Nate had weakened to a tropical depression with 35 mph winds and was expected to dissipate by today.

VERACRUZ, Mexico – Seven of 10 oil workers missing in the Gulf of Mexico were found alive Sunday, according to Mexico’s state oil company, three days after evacuating their disabled rig in a tropical storm and escaping in an enclosed life raft.

Two bodies also were found but have yet to be identified, and rescuers are still searching for one worker who remains missing, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said in a statement.

Pemex identified the survivors as two Americans, Jeremy Parfait and Ted Derise Jr., both of Louisiana, Kham Nadimuzzaman of Bangladesh and Mexicans Ruben Velasquez, Eleaquin Lopez, Luis Escobar and Ruben Lopez Villalobos.

They were found 51 miles off the coast of the Gulf state of Campeche by the ship Bourbon Artavaze and taken by helicopter to the Campeche port city of Ciudad del Carmen, where they were admitted to a Pemex regional hospital.

The fate of the other two Americans, who have been identified previously as Craig Myers and Nick Reed, also of Louisiana, was not clear late Sunday.

The oil company and the Mexican navy, which assisted in the search and rescue, provided no other immediate details. It was not known how the survivors and bodies were found or whether they were still in the life boat. There was also no word on the condition of the survivors.

All were working for Houston-based Geokinetics Inc.

Geokinetics spokeswoman Brenda Taquino could not reached for comment Sunday night.

The oil workers called for help Thursday afternoon in the middle of Tropical Storm Nate, which disabled their vessel, the Trinity II, a 94-foot, 185-ton liftboat, that can lower legs to the sea floor and then elevate itself above the water level. This one was being used as a recording vessel and housing for the crew, and it was in waters about 25 feet deep.

Pemex and the Mexican navy led the search by air and sea, which intensified Saturday as the storm moved west toward the coast of Veracruz. A dozen fishermen disappeared aboard two shrimp boats on Friday in the Gulf during the storm.

Nate weakened to a tropical depression Sunday over Mexico’s Gulf coast, where officials opened shelters as a precaution but said the storm was having little impact.

Nate made landfall as a tropical storm on Sunday north of Barra de Nautla in the state of Veracruz, where Gov. Javier Duarte said there were no reports of damage or injuries and rivers remained below risk level.

On Sunday evening, Nate’s center was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Tuxpan, Mexico, and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

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