Death toll of explosion on Brazilian oil ship rises to 5

AP News
Posted: Feb 12, 2015 10:45 AM

SAO PAULO (AP) — Two bodies were found inside an oil ship that exploded off Brazil's coast, increasing the death toll to five, the oil workers union said Thursday.

The Oil Workers Union of the state of Espirito Santo, where Wednesday's explosion took place, said rescue teams are searching for four who remain missing. It said 10 workers were injured in the blast.

The union said on its Facebook page that the two bodies were found inside the engine room of the vessel, one of many floating oil production, storage and offloading units that state-run oil company Petrobras employs in developing Brazil's massive offshore oil fields.

The ship was leased by Petrobras from Norway-based BW Offshore, which confirmed the new death toll and the number of missing workers.

"It was a tragic day and we will not rest until we find the four workers who are missing," BW Offshore CEO Carl Arnet said in a statement.

BW Offshore said that 74 workers were on board at the time of the blast and that 65 were safely evacuated from the ship, which was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) off the coast.

According to the Unified Oil Workers Federation, Brazil's biggest oil industry union the blast was caused by a gas leak in the vessel's engine room.

The Brazilian government's National Oil Agency said in a statement that no oil leaked as a result of the accident and said it had begun an investigation. It noted the ship passed a Navy inspection earlier this year.

The accident comes amid a crisis for Petrobras, as federal investigators continue to probe a massive kickback scheme allegedly operated by former executives of the oil company, which saw them receiving hundreds of millions in bribes from construction and engineering firms in exchange for giving those companies inflated contracts.