Rescuers on Friday were attempting to reach a life raft containing a 10-member crew that was forced to abandon ship in the fury of Tropical Storm (TS) Nate in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Geokinetics Inc. said Friday that three of its workers and seven contractors had been aboard the Trinity II to support an ocean bottom cable project in the Bay of Campeche. The company said the storm disabled the ship Thursday and the crew communicated its intention to abandon the vessel at about 12:25 p.m. CDT. The company said the crew was last seen boarding a life raft.

Houston-based Geokinetics, which performs seismic testing for the oil and gas industry, said rescuers were attempting to reach the crew but were hampered by the inclement weather. "The safety and welfare of our employees is paramount and we are coordinating with maritime authorities to expedite the rescue effort as we continue to gather the facts." Geokinetics CEO Richard Miles said Friday.

Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), said Thursday it had dispatched two ships to search for the workers off the coast of Tabasco state but had not located them due to climatic conditions.

The Associated Press reported that the crew was attempting to reach the port of Dos Bocas when it called for help Thursday and that the Pemex ships were searching in an area eight miles offshore and were coordinating their rescue operations from Dos Bocas.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported at 4 p.m. CDT Friday that Tropical Storm Nate was in a stationary position in the Bay of Campeche, with maximum sustained winds of near 50 mph. The storm was expected to strengthen to a hurricane, head west and make landfall near Veracruz over the weekend.

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