One person is missing and seven have been hospitalized after an oil and gas platform explosion in Lake Pontchartrain just north of Kenner on Sunday night, Jefferson Parish officials said.

Keith Conley, chief operating officer of Jefferson Parish, said Kenner Police received calls about the explosion around 7:18 p.m. Kenner city officials said authorities on scene believe the explosion was caused by cleaning chemicals that ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform.

Officials at a 10 p.m. news conference said all people injured in the explosion were either on the rig or an adjacent barge. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said some sort of cleaning was being done on the platform, but an official cause of the explosion has not been made. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said one man on the rig was not able to make it to shore after the explosion, and search efforts continue to find him. 

Five people rescued from the rig have been taken to University Medical Center in New Orleans and two people have been taken to East Jefferson General Hospital in New Orleans.

EMS officials said the five taken to University Medical Center are being treated for blast-type injuries and burns and are in critical condition. The two taken to East Jefferson General Hospital are in stable condition.

Can't see the video below? Click here.

 

The rig is reportedly operated by CLOVELLY Oil, Lot 41, and officials said the platform where the explosion happened is used for the transfer of oil, and oil is possibly leaking into Lake Pontchartrain.

The explosion happened north west of the Treasure Chest Casino, about four or five miles west of the Williams Boulevard Boat Launch. 

Kenner resident Roger Fernandez took live video of the flaming rig shortly after 8 p.m. after saying he could feel the explosion from his home in a suburb near the lake.

“If you heard a big explosion in North Kenner, there’s an oil rig close to the parish line that blew up. It’s still hopping and flaming away,” Fernandez could be heard saying breathlessly on the video. “Not sure if anyone was on it though. The Coast Guard should be on the way.”

He continued that he was “two blocks away” from the waterfront when the explosion happened.

“It shook me out of my couch,” he said. “I came running.”

By 9:30 p.m., his video had been shared nearly 2,000 times. Commenters said they also heard the explosion as far away as LaPlace, Luling, St. Rose, Norco, Destrehan and Boutte.

George Branigan, a 58-year-old insurance agent, was still watching the flames from his third floor balcony on Carmenere Street in the Chateau Lake Subdivision, which backs up against Lake Pontchartrain, about 9:45 p.m.

Branigan said he was in his den watching television with his wife, 53-year-old Vickie Branigan, and stepdaughter, 22-year-old Molly Johnston, when the explosion happened.

"We heard something blow up and it sounded like it was in my backyard," Branigan said.

At first, he said, he thought it might be a transformer that exploded, but knew that wasn't the case when he saw everyone still had electricity.

But before he could walk outside to see what it was, he heard what sounded like pebbles hitting his house.

He didn't see any debris on his roof and his yard, but he immediately noticed the rig was on fire.

"It was just burning tremendous flames," Branigan said. "It was just unbelievable."

Can't see the video below? Click here.

 

More to come.