Baku, Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan observes day of national mourning as 29 oil workers are still missing after offshore oil rig caught fire on Friday.
The President Ilham Aliyev announced Sunday as day of national mourning and national flags were half-mast in Azerbaijan as well as its diplomatic missions all over the world.
The official decree released by Presidential office states:
Sharing the grief of the families of those who died in the incident, I hereby order:
To declare 6 December 2015 a day of mourning in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
It may be mentioned that fire broke out on an offshore oil platform in Caspian Sea on Friday evening According to official statement of the company, the the fire started at a rig at the Gunashli field southeast of Neft Daşları (Oil Rocks) settlement. Company claimed that the fire was caused by strong winds that damaged a gas pipeline on the platform.
The state run energy company SOCAR said that the fire in the gas pipeline had not been completely extinguished and it had not been ruled out that it could spread to oil and gas wells near the platform.
At least two people were dead while 29 are still missing. Company statement said that rescue workers managed to evacuate 33 people from the rig, where they had been hanging in lifeboats 10 metres (35 feet) above the stormy waters.
Azerbaijan has also canceled all entertainment events and television concert programmes on the instruction of the President, said a source in Foreign Office. Government prosecutors had opened an inquiry into possible “breaches of fire safety regulations”.
Iy may be mentioned that the Guneshli deposits were discovered in 1981 during Soviet era in the south Caspian Sea, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) east of capital Baku. The deepwater Guneshli section of the project began oil production in 2008. Platform number 10 is operated solely by state run SOCAR.
According to AFP news agency, Azerbaijan is known for oil rig accidents and a drilling platform sank in a storm off Russia’s far eastern in 2011 killing 53 people while an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and sent millions of barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico in 2012. The deadliest incident in recent decades occurred in the North Sea in 1988, when the Piper Alpha oil platform operated by the US-based Occidental Petroleum exploded, killing 167 people.