VLADIVOSTOK, December 18 (Itar-Tass) — 14 people were rescued in the Sea of Okhotsk from the upturned floating drilling platform Kolskoye. They were picked up by the Magadan icebreaker and tug-boat Neftegaz-55. All the nine were in life-jackets, reports the Vladivostok marine rescue centre.
According to data of the Russian Ministry for Emergencies, there were 67 people aboard the drilling platform; the fate of others is unknown. Foul weather makes the rescue operation difficult: the strong gale, wind gusts and snow charges.
The Kolskoye drilling platform, piloted by the Magadan icebreaker, was sailing from the Kamchatka western coast to Sakhalin, and a strong gale swooped down on it in the centre of the Sea of Okhotsk. Waves smashed portholes in the platform, life rafts were washed away, and water started gushing inside the platform.
The drilling platform sent a “SOS” signal, and there was need to evacuate people from the platform. That was to be done by helicopters, preparing for a flight in the village of Nogliki (northern Sakhalin). But the drilling platform upturned right away on Sunday in the afternoon. Nobody from platform workers had time to shift to inflatable life rafts.
The Magadan icebreaker and the Neftegaz-55 tug-boat are looking for the crew of the drilling platform and passengers. The Atlas rescue ship of the Sakhalin rescue authority is also speeding to the place of the incident, but the Atlas will reach the area of disaster only by the evening of December 19, reported an officer on duty of the Sakhalin authority. The drilling platform was 200 kilometres from the Sakhalin coast when it upturned.