Fuel Barge Explodes Off Port Aransas Coast
Early Friday, a fuel barge exploded off the Port Aransas coast, leaving two missing. The explosion occurred around 4:30 a.m. while the barge was being pulled by a tug, according to a mayday message to Coast Guard watchstanders by the tug’s captain. Six crew members were reportedly pulled to safety.
Crew Goes Missing After the Fire
In the aftermath of the explosion, it was discovered that two of the barge’s crew had gone missing. The Coast Guard performed an ongoing search throughout Friday and all of Saturday, but eventually called it off in the early hours of Sunday. "We want to convey our deepest condolences to the families of the two crewmembers. Our crews performed an exhaustive search and will continue to remain vigilant and monitor the area closely,” said the sector commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector / Air Station Corpus Christi.
Oil Spill Threatens the Port
The barge had been carrying approximately 133,000 barrels of crude oil at the time of the explosion, and images from the scene have shown that a leak has begun near a large hole near the bow of the ship. Following the blast, 2,000 feet of containment boom were delivered to the area on Friday to help with the leaking oil. On Saturday, more reinforcements were put into place. 6,000 feet have also been used in areas deemed environmentally important.
Jetty channels and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel have been closed to keep the oil from reaching port.