One dead, another missing after oil barge fire off Texas

Coast Guard responds to barge on fire approximately three miles from Port Aransas jetties in Texas, U.S., October 20, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - At least one person was killed and another was missing on Friday after an oil barge being pulled by a tug boat caught fire and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas, officials said.

The barge was carrying some 133,000 barrels of crude oil to a refinery in Corpus Christi when the explosion occurred at 4:30 a.m., they said.

The dead person had not yet been identified, said Rick Adams, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Port Aransas.

Six of the eight crew members were rescued and did not suffer any serious injuries, Adams added.

The fire was extinguished and was being monitored for re-ignition throughout the night, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The entrance and jetty channels leading to the Corpus Christi ship channel from Harbor Island to offshore were closed to prevent the spread of discharged oil into the port and to facilitate cleanup operations, it added.

“Air monitoring has been completed by the state and confirmed to be no threat to the public,” the Coast said.

Bouchard Transportation, which owns the barge and the tug boat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Jim Forsyth in Texas and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nallur Sethuraman, Devika Krishnakumar and Eileen Soreng; Editing by James Dalgleish and Sandra Maler