(Reuters) -One person has died, a dozen are still missing and six others have been rescued after a commercial “lift boat” used to service oil rigs capsized in hurricane force winds south of Louisiana’s Port Fourchon, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday.
Rescuers in Coast Guard cutters, aircraft and volunteer civilian boats were hunting for the dozen missing people in the Gulf of Mexico after the 129-foot (39-m) commercial vessel, Seacor Power, capsized in rough seas eight miles (13 km) off Port Fouchon about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, officials said.
Searchers were “saturating the area,” said Coast Guard Captain Will Watson, who added that some people could still be trapped on the crippled vessel.
“We’re giving it everything we have,” he said.
“Unfortunately one person was recovered deceased on the surface of the water,” he said, adding that the winds were about 80 miles per hour (129 km per hour) to 90 mph in 7- to 9-foot seas at the time of the accident.
Two people were rescued by the Coast Guard and four others were pulled from the waters by people on other vessels, he said.
“My heart and the collective hearts of our team goes out to the families,” Watson said, adding that they ware working to find other survivors.
The high winds from a line of thunderstorms with some hail and flooding are expected to continue in southeastern Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service. There is a threat of severe weather to overnight in the region and a flash flood watch is in effect till Thursday morning.
The vessel is owned by Seacor Marine, a Houston, Texas-based transportation company, according to media reports.
A lift boat is also called “jack barge” because it has extendable 250-foot legs that can reach the seabottom. It is a type of service vessel often used by energy companies for offshore construction projects or to service oil rigs.
A representative for the ship’s owner was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Additional reporting and writing by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by William Maclean, Mike Harrison and Marguerita Choy)