News24

Possible survivors of Russia oil rig disaster

2011-12-19 14:25

Moscow - Rescuers on Monday spotted a raft carrying around 15 possible survivors from Russia's oil rig disaster off Sakhalin island in the Far East, the rig's owner said.

The emergencies ministry leading the search said the information was incorrect however.

"Aircraft have spotted a life raft with around 15 people. It is unclear whether they are dead or alive," the director of state-owned company Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka (AMNGR), Yury Melikhov told a briefing in the northern city of Murmansk.

His comments were confirmed to AFP by his spokesperson Andrei Bobrov.

"Vessels have been dispatched to the area," Bobrov said.

A spokesperson for the emergencies ministry in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Svetlana Alekseyeva, told AFP however that the report was incorrect and the ministry could confirm only that 10 bodies had been pulled out of the water.

The jack-up oil rig, the Kolskaya, with 67 people on board was being towed from the Kamchatka peninsula across the sea towards Sakhalin island when it got caught up in a storm, capsized and sank within 20 minutes on Sunday.

Fourteen crew members were rescued on Sunday.

The federal sea and river agency said Monday that the bodies of 16 crew had been found, while the transport prosecutors put the death toll at 14.