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MOSCOW, Russia-The Russian News Agency, TASS is reporting the capsize and sinking of an oil rig that was being towed in the Sea of Okhotsk. The floating drilling rig Kolskaya, was being towed by the tugboat Neftegaz when it overturned. The sinking occurred after a wave crashed over the rig, breaking equipment and shattering portholes in the rig's mess hall. The huge wave washed away life-rafts, leaving no escape route, and sealing the fate of many on board.
The news agency has announced that the current total of dead is now at 14. Ten of those were retrieved from the icy waters in the past few hours. 14 people were also plucked from the ocean alive. Of the 67 that were reported on board, the fate of the remaining 39 is still unknown.
The Russian newspaper RIA Novosti, is reporting the retrieval of 16 bodies so far in the accident, with 37 still unaccounted for.
The accident occurred during a fierce storm in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, 125 miles off of the island of Sakhalin. According to the business daily, Kommersant, roughly half of the people on board the vessel were not authorized to be on board as it was being moved. According to regulations, only the captain and a small portion of the crew were to be on board.
Dmitry Dmitriyenko, Governor of the Murmansk region where many of the people on board were from was urging families and friends of those aboard to not lose hope, but those hopes are dimming as the search continues for the second day. He said yesterday, “This is a terrible disaster which took the crew unawares. But there is still a chance.”
The drilling rig was built in Finland in 1985 and was currently under contract and doing work for the energy giant Gazprom.