A manager with Chet Morrison Contractors of Houma, the company that owns the 157-foot dive support vessel, said he believes the explosion may have originated in the boat. The vessel was moored to the pipeline about 20 miles from Intracoastal City in Vermilion Parish, guard officials said.
"Our initial indications are that a pipeline didn't explode," said risk manager John Deblieux. "We only have damage to the vessel."
Thirty-two crew members were aboard the Jillian Morrison at the time of the accident. The Coast Guard has not released the name of the company that owns the pipeline.
Diving Support Vessel Jillian Morrison
Rescue helicopter crews from New Orleans and Houston airlifted four of the injured to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette. Two others were taken to Terrebonne General Hospital in Houma. Their names have not been released.
"Injuries range from severe burns to broken bones, and one person had severe head trauma," said Guard spokesman Petty Officer James Harless. "This is a very severe case."
After airlifting the victims to the hospital for treatment, the New Orleans helicopter crews returned to the accident site in the Gulf of Mexico to search for the missing crew member, who has not been identified. When they ran low on fuel early in the morning, they returned to base and waited for daylight, Harless said.
At daybreak, they conducted what the Coast Guard calls a "first light search" and re-launched a chopper to waters near the Jillian Morrison. A Good Samaritan vessel, whose name wasn't available, stayed nearby and helped with the search, Harless said.
Paul Barnard, the search and rescue coordinator for the Coast Guard in New Orleans, added that he had dispatched the Cutter Pelican, an 87-foot patrol boat from Abbeville, to aid search efforts this morning.
The captain of the vessel, whose name was not immediately available, told Coast Guard officials that 32 passengers were aboard the ship, Harless said.
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