Last week, amid raging seas and in the chaos of a strong storm, production equipment on an offshore oil rig collapsed after getting hit by waves — rupturing a natural gas pipeline and triggering a fire that has left seven workers dead and 23 still missing.
According to a joint statement from the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and the Azeri Ministry of Emergency Situations, the heavy storm conditions hampered escape efforts for many of the workers. One lifeboat reportedly came undone from its fastening, causing some of the workers to fall into the Caspian Sea.
But of the 63 people who were on the rig, 33 have been rescued.
Four ships and a helicopter continued to search for the missing workers near the rig, which is located about 60 miles east of Baku.
Azerbaijan is a key player in Europe’s oil market and according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the country holds about 7 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.
For now, the fire on the rig is still going. According to officials: "The fire still continues because of the remaining gas in the technological systems and pipe. The fire in the platform is assumed to pass to the oil and gas wells too."