Rescuers save at least 55 oil workers from collided platform

At least 55 oil workers were saved from storm-tossed waters, but at least 26 other people were still at sea a day after a drilling platform hit an oil rig, spilling gas and oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

At least 26 employees of the state oil company were still either floating at sea in life rafts or were unaccounted for, Pemex spokeswoman Marta Avelar said. The company had located two rafts but its helicopters were not able to reach them because of heavy winds.

The governor of the Gulf coast state of Campeche said he had been told that seven workers had died, but offered no other details. A Pemex spokeswoman who was not authorized to be quoted by name said she was unable to confirm that.

The company said 81 workers abandoned a subcontractor's Usumacinta platform Tuesday after it hit the Kab 101 light-production rig amid 25-foot (8-meter) waves and winds gusting to 80 mph (130 kph).

The accident occurred about 20 miles (32 kilometers) offshore from the port of Dos Bocas in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

The storm forced Mexico's main oil ports to close. They remained closed Wednesday, Pemex said.

Avelar said she did not know if the gas and oil leak was continuing Wednesday and it was not immediately clear how much had spilled. Pemex said earlier that it had dispatched repair teams to the site and would send more when weather permits.

The company said Tuesday that the crash knocked out some controls on a valve.

The Usumacinta drilling rig is owned by the Compania Perforadora Central SA de CV and operates under contract to Pemex.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova