HOUSTON — The search continues for 12 people missing after a liftboat, owned by a Houston company, capsized just miles off the Louisiana coast on Tuesday afternoon.
One death and six rescues were confirmed by the U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday.
The Coast Guard said it has covered an area larger than the state of Rhode Island in its search, which continued overnight into Thursday morning using night vision technology.
The liftboat Seacor Power, owned by Houston-based Seacor Marine, overturned in high seas and hurricane-force winds.
“Whenever we engage, the Coast Guard engages in a search and rescue effort we are hopeful,” Captain Will Watson said. “We are saturating the area with available resources to assist in the rescue mission, and we will continue to do so.”
There is no confirmation yet that some of the missing could still be on the vessel.
“We don’ know for certain, right now, but that’s something that we’re looking into as the investigation unfolds,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Ensign Shelly Turner said. “We’re trying to figure that information out, but it is a possibility right now.”
The Seacor Power overturned on its starboard side and is still partially submerged and grounded in about 55 feet of water. It was on a 100-mile journey to the Talos platform.
The 129-foot commercial platform capsized in the Gulf of Mexico about 7 miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Liftboats transport equipment and workers to and from oil rigs in the Gulf. They lower huge legs to the sea floor to become offshore platforms.
The Coast Guard said winds were 80 to 90 mph and waves rose 7 to 9 feet high when the liftboat overturned. Captain Watson said the weather at the time was worse than what was forecasted.
Captain Watson said the weather conditions when the boat capsized were very "challenging," but he stopped short of speculating on what caused the incident and whether the boat should have been in the Gulf, saying his team is focused on the rescue right now.
“We have to remain hopeful and optimistic,” said Watson on Wednesday. “We are giving it all we’ve got.”
According to the Coast Guard, the company that owns the boat is in contact with impacted families.
The Associated Press and WWLTV in New Orleans contributed to this report