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Oil rig explodes in Louisiana lake injuring multiple people, police say

KENNER, La. -- An oil rig exploded Sunday night in Lake Pontchartrain in St. Charles Parish, a Louisiana police department said.

Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor said Sunday evening that rescue boats are being sent from the Kenner Boat Launch, and that officials with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office are assisting, The Times-Picayune reported.

There were "a lot of injuries," many of them serious, with at least seven confirmed and more expected, McGregor said.

Initial reports said six people were injured and one person was missing. No additional details on the status of the injured have been given. No deaths have been reported.

CBS affiliate WWL-TV reports that the Coast Guard New Orleans Division has a small boat and helicopter responding to the scene. The station writes that one person is unaccounted for.

WWL-TV says five people were taken to the University Medical Center and two people were taken to the East Jefferson General Hospital.

"We believe there is still one unaccounted for," Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said. "We are treating it as a search and rescue."  

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A look at an oil rig explosion in Louisiana on Sun., Oct. 15, 2017. Roger Fernandez

Social media users reported hearing a loud noise on Sunday evening that even rattled some homes.

Jefferson Parish officials say there were cleaning chemicals aboard the platform but do not know the exact cause of the fire at this time, according to WWL-TV.

WWL-TV reports that the owner of the rig is Clovelly Oil Co. and that it's a production platform called a co-mingling facility where oil is drawn from several different oil fields.

Reports came into the Emergency Operations center around 7:15 p.m. of fire and smoke being seen from Lake Pontchartrain, Jefferson Parish spokesman Antwan Harris said in a news release Sunday night.

"Several people have been rescued from the active fire on the rig," Harris said.

WWL-TV cites Jefferson Parish officials as saying the oil rig is located north west of Treasure Chest Casino.

Officials held a press briefing Sunday night to give an update on the situation:

Flames could be seen from the area and the air smelled of burning rubber, according to the newspaper.

First responders from St. Charles Parish, Jefferson Parish, Kenner, the U.S. Coast Guard, East Jefferson General Hospital EMS and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries were working on the explosion, Harris said.

The Coast Guard will be conducting a water quality evaluation as well as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

Lake Pontchartrain is north of New Orleans.

Officials plan to hold another press update Monday at 8 a.m. local time.