Coast Guard: 4 missing, 6 hospitalized after explosion along Corpus Christi ship channel

Four people were still missing Friday night and six others are being treated in the hospital after an explosion at the Port of Corpus Christi.

Officials from the Coast Guard, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, Orion Marine (the owner of the vessel which struck the pipeline) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality provided an update on the situation late Friday afternoon from what was the unified command center at the Ortiz Center in Corpus Christi.

Early on in the incident officials from the Coast Guard confirmed that the barge Waymon L. Boyd had hit a pipeline Friday morning, which resulted in an explosion.

The underwater pipeline was fractured at the barge loading dock, and the owner of the barge, Orion Marine, said 19 employees were working at the site at the time of the explosion. The fire then engulfed the barge and then spread from the pipeline.

As first reported by the Southside Light early Friday morning, the Coast Guard confirmed that they had helped ferry two injured workers to the hospital via helicopter. Four others were transported by Corpus Christi Fire assets by ground for treatment at area hospitals. All of the victims suffered burns, and are getting treatment.

The Coast Guard confirmed that four others remain unaccounted for.

Five of the six hospitalized workers had to be taken to San Antonio for more intensive treatment for their injuries.

The explosion was reported at about 8 a.m. near Nueces Bay, in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that the inner harbor remains closed here in Corpus Christi.

From an environmental standpoint, the Coast Guard said that about 6,000 gallons of diesel spilled because of the explosion and fire. The damaged pipeline has been secured and has mostly burned itself out.

The Port of Corpus Christi is the third-largest port in the United States in total tonnage.

Matt Pierce originally filed this report for Al Jazeera News at 22:35 GMT on July 21, 2020.

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