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via BBC News

Two people are missing and four have been injured by a fire on a shallow-bed oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Louisiana coast, officials say.

The four people who were hurt were in critical condition in hospital, a spokeswoman said. Earlier, the US Coast Guard said two people had died.

The oil production platform is owned by Black Elk Energy and is about 25 miles (40km) south-east of Grand Isle.

The fire, which started before 09:00 local time (15:00 GMT), is now out.

The Coast Guard said 24 people were on the platform when the fire broke out. Eleven people were taken by helicopter to hospitals or for treatment on shore by emergency medical workers.

In a news briefing in New Orleans, Coast Guard Captain Ed Cubanski said the rig was not producing oil when the fire started and no oil had leaked, playing down fears of an environmental disaster.

The fire began when rig workers cut one of the platform’s lines with a torch.

A sheen of oil about a half-mile (0.8km) long and 0.28km wide was reported on the Gulf surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform.

“It’s not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we’re getting right now,” Captain Cubanski said.

The US Coast Guard deployed boats and aircraft to the rig to respond to the fire, a spokesman told the BBC, and a search is under way for the missing people.

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