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Search Suspended For Worker After Rig Explodes in Louisiana Lake

by Alex Johnson, Gemma DiCasimirro and Corky Siemaszko /  / Updated 
Authorities respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain, off Kenner, La., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
Authorities respond to an oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain, off Kenner, La., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.Matthew Hinton / The Advocate via AP

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The Coast Guard suspended a search in the choppy waters of Lake Pontchartrain for a worker Monday who went missing when a Louisiana storage rig exploded with such power it rattled houses in towns more than a mile away with a sonic boom.

“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” Coast Guard Commander Zac Ford said in a news release.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto earlier identified the missing worker as Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas.

Four of the seven people injured in the explosion were released from hospitals on Monday, Lopinto said.

Meanwhile, rescue workers were able to make it onto the still-smoldering rig and shut off the main gas line.

"We have control of the situation at this time," Lopinto said.

The rig, which is owned by Clovelly Oil Co. of New Orleans, is located about a mile-and-a-half north of Kenner, Louisiana.

The first indication that something was wrong came at 7:18 p.m. Sunday when local law enforcement was inundated with 911 calls from Kenner residents reporting the blast.

"Because this was a mile and a half away, some Kenner residents did feel a sonic boom," one official said.

While the exact cause of the explosion is still not clear, officials in the aftermath said they suspect it was touched off after cleaning chemicals on the platform ignited during some kind of maintenance work.

Officials earlier described it as an oil rig, but it is a natural gas storage rig.

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