Life Raft Found Near Sunken Russian Oil Platform

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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A life raft was spotted Monday in the icy waters near a capsized Russian oil rig. The raft could hold as many as 15 people. Rescue crews could not immediately confirm if there are any survivors on board.

At least 16 people are dead while the fate of 37 others remains unknown after the drilling rig capsized and sank early Sunday in the frigid Sea of Okhotsk.

The Russian Transportation Ministry said 14 crew were rescued by an icebreaker and a tug boat after the platform was smashed by a giant wave and began sinking while under tow 200 kilometers off Sakhalin island. The ministry said the wave broke portholes and ripped empty lifeboats from their moorings. Water temperatures were reported at 1 degree Celsius, severely diminishing prospects for further rescues.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a probe of the disaster.

Authorities say the giant rig was headed from the Kamchatka peninsula to Sakhalin when it capsized.