© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Nation & World

A Dozen People Missing After Commercial Boat Capsizes South Of Louisiana

A Coast Guard Station Grand Isle boatcrew heads toward a capsized 175-foot commercial lift boat April 13 searching for people in the water 8 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
A Coast Guard Station Grand Isle boatcrew heads toward a capsized 175-foot commercial lift boat April 13 searching for people in the water 8 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Updated April 14, 2021 at 3:32 PM ET

Search efforts continue on Wednesday, authorities said, for the dozen people still unaccounted for after a commercial lift boat capsized eight miles south of Port Fourchon, La. in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson told reporters on Wednesday that 19 crew members had been aboard the 129-foot boat, which is named the Seacor Power. So far, the Coast Guard and multiple good Samaritan vessels have rescued six people, and one body was recovered on the water's surface.

"Personnel accountability and safety of life is our top priority," he said. "We are saturating the area with available resources to assist in the rescue mission and we will continue to do so."

Seacor Marine, the transport company that owns the vessel, is handling next-of-kin notification and family reunification efforts, Watson said.

He added that the boat remains overturned on its side and partially submerged, and described the environmental impact as "minimal."

Lift boats have legs that can be operated to reach the sea floor to raise the vessel above the water's surface and keep it stationery for purposes of lifting personnel and equipment to work on offshore rigs, Coast Guard officials explained.

The Coast Guard received a distress call from a good Samaritan around 4:30 p.m. local time, about three hours after officials said the ship had departed from the port.

Watson said there had been unexpected weather conditions at the time of the incident, with winds of 80 to 90 miles per hour, seven to nine-foot seas and limited visibility. The search continues despite adverse weather and anticipated thunderstorms this afternoon, he added.

Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Jonathan Lally told NPR on Tuesday that when initial distress calls were made, there were conflicting reports that additional vessels might also be in trouble.

The initial distress call triggered an Urgent Marine Information broadcast, which launched the emergency rescue effort.

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Glenn Harris arrived within 30 minutes of the call and was able to rescue one person from the capsized vessel.

A separate crew from the Coast Guard Station Grand Isle rescued a second person. Other good Samaritan vessels — often the first to arrive on scene — rescued another four people from the water.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris pulls a person from the water that was on the overturned commercial vessel off the coast of Louisiana.
/ U.S. Coast Guard District 8
/
The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Glenn Harris pulls a person from the water who was on the overturned commercial vessel off the coast of Louisiana.

The Coast Guard corrected itself late Tuesday night, saying officials had earlier incorrectly referred to the size of the commercial lift boat and where it had capsized.

Lally explained a "microburst of severe weather" may have caused the craft to flip.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for all of southeastern Louisiana from noon on Tuesday through Thursday due to the potential for heavy rainfall.

"Do not enter or cross flowing water or water of unknown depth," the service said.

The NWS also issued a wind advisory, cautioning residents to prepare for gusts up to 45 mph from Tuesday through 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

"Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result," the agency said.

This is a breaking news story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.