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CARACAS, Venezuela – The Venezuelan governnment says an offshore natural gas platform has sunk into the sea, and 95 workers have been safely rescued.
President Hugo Chavez announced the accident on Twitter early Thursday.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said all of the workers on the Aban Pearl platform off eastern Sucre state were safely evacuated, and he said the accident poses no threat to the environment.
Officials are investigating what could have caused the platform to sink, Ramirez said. He said there was a problem with the flotation systems of the semi-submergible platform that led to a massive water leak in one area.
He said alarms went off three hours before the sinking, giving the crew time to evacuate. Three workers including the captain stayed behind until it was clear that the platform was at risk of collapsing, and then abandoned the rig, Ramirez said.
He said a tube connecting the rig to the gas field was disconnected and safety valves shut. "There's no problem of any sort of any leak from the field into the environment," Ramirez said.