At least 18 are confirmed dead and seven others missing following a weather-related accident Wednesday on a platform in the Campeche Sound of the Gulf of Mexico, according to state-run Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Pemex reported that 81 people had been on the Kab 101, an oil and gas platform located in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from the port of Dos Bocas in Tabasco and about 47 miles from Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche. A Perforadora Central portable drilling rig had been set up next to the platform to drill a new well when, at around noon, there was a sudden change in weather conditions, bringing wind gusts of approximately 80 mph and waves as high as 26 feet. The rig was knocked into the platform, striking the tree valves on Kab 101 and causing a leak of both oil and gas. After closing subsurface safety valves and the master valve mechanics latter pit, workers observed oil and gas still leaking in small quantities.

Pemex said workers evacuated the platform in lifeboats with the support of the fire fighting boat Morrison Tide and three other vessels dispatched to the scene. Subsequently, five sailors joined the rescue efforts for a total of 86 workers involved in the incident.

Pemex said 61 people have been rescued and efforts to rescue the missing continue. Of those who died, four worked for Pemex, seven for the Perforadora Central, four for Sercomsa, one for Morrison Tide and two others have not yet been identified. Continued bad weather in the area has hampered rescue efforts, which are being supported by the Mexican Navy, the company said.

It will take three to five days to cap the rig, which continues to leak primarily natural gas, the company said. The amount of oil that leaked into the sea “has been less than what was originally anticipated,” and most of the leakage has been gas, according to Pemex. Once conditions improve, Pemex staff specializing in the care of spills will repair the damaged valve, control the leak, separate and contain the spill area and disperse the oil.

The same storm that struck Kab 101 forced the temporary closure of three major Mexican oil exporting ports earlier this week. One port, Cayo Arcos, remains closed.

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