Gulf of Mexico oil platform fire: 4 dead and 45 injured in blaze

Some eight firefighting boats are tackling the fire

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At least four people have died and 45 others are believed to have been injured in a fire at an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation's state-owned oil company and local emergency services have said.

Some 300 workers were evacuated from the Abkatun Permanente shallow-water platform in the Campeche Sound early on Wednesday morning, according Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

The firm tweeted that an earlier death toll of one had risen to four, and that one the fatalities was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company Cotemar.

Conflicting figures for the number of people injured in the fire emerged from the scene. A spokesman for emergency services in the nearby city of Ciudad del Carmen told Reuters that 45 people had been registered with injuries.

In an earlier statement, Pemex said that two of the injured workers were in a serious condition.

A video from the scene showed huge plumes of black smoke rising from a raging blaze, which eight firefighting boats are trying to extinguish.

Pemex later revealed that the fire broke out in the dehydration and pumping area of the platform, though it was not clear what caused it. No oil has been spilt in the disaster, a company spokesman said.

Those injured in the incident are now currently being treated at a hospital in Campeche, Mexico's Energy Security Agency said, adding that the blaze "is being extinguished".

Part of the Abkatun Pol Chuc offshore complex, the platform is located in the Campeche Sound, near the coast of the states of Campeche and Tabasco. Some 40,000 barrels of oil are produced at the platform each day, out of 300,000 in the entire complex. However, production at the platform has been suspended due to the emergency, a Pemex spokesman said.

The tragic blaze may damage Mexico's efforts to attract investors to its ailing oil industry, which is the 10th biggest in the world.

Pemex has had a number of accidents in recent years, including a blast at Pemex's Mexico City headquarters in 2013, which killed at least 37 people. Another fire at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico killed 26 people in September fire in 2012.

The last blaze in the Campeche area was in 2007 at the Kab 121 offshore rig.

That accident was caused when high waves hit the rig, sending a boom crashing into an oil platform's valve assembly. The accident killed at least 21 workers and the rig spilled crude and natural gas for almost two months.

Mexico's worst major spill in the Gulf was in June 1979, when an offshore drilling rig in Mexican waters - the Ixtoc I - blew up, releasing 140 million gallons of oil.

It took Pemex and a series of US contractors nearly nine months to cap the well, and a great deal of the oil contaminated Mexican and US waters.

Additional reporting by PA and Reuters

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