Nation Briefs

Louisiana

Coast Guard ends search for 2 after oil platform fire

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard on Saturday evening called off its search for two workers missing after an explosion and fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico a day earlier. Four other workers were badly burned in the blaze.

Helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft had been searching a 1,400-square-mile area around the platform by air, while cutters and boat crews searched the sea, over a 32-hour period.

The blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on a platform owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Four workers were severely burned, though Black Elk Energy spokeswoman Leslie Hoffman said their burns were not as extensive as initially feared.

Texas

NTSB: Signals activated before float on tracks

MIDLAND, Texas – Federal investigators say the warning signals at a railroad crossing in West Texas were activated before a parade float crossed the tracks in an accident that killed military veterans.

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind made that announcement at a news conference Saturday. He said the signals had been activated seven seconds before the float crossed the tracks.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed Thursday when a freight train slammed into the parade float in Midland. Sixteen people were injured.

Rosekind said the NTSB reconstructed the accident using video cameras from the train and a sheriff’s vehicle.

Maine

Deputy: Truck hit by plane allowed to be on runway

OWLS HEAD, Maine – A small plane that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing three, first struck a small truck crossing the runway to pick up a pilot who had parked in a hangar, authorities said Saturday.

The Cessna 172 was heading north on the Knox County Regional Airport runway early Friday evening when it struck the pickup, which was authorized to be on airport grounds, Knox County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Carroll said. The plane continued to climb, and as it turned to the east, it spiraled downward about 200 to 300 yards into the thick woods and immediately burst into flames, the sheriff’s office said.

Because the plane’s identification numbers had been burned off, “we don’t have verification that this aircraft is what we think it is,” airport manager Jeff Northgraves said. That means the state medical examiner will have to identify the badly burned bodies, and “we don’t expect it will be today,” Northgraves said Saturday.

Mississippi

Dolphins found shot, slashed, stabbed with tool

GULFPORT, Miss. – Authorities are investigating several attacks on dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico after some were found with gunshot wounds, cuts and missing jaws.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a “heads up” directive. That puts officials on alert for an increase in human interaction with dolphins in the waters across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Authorities say cases of gunshot wounds, mutilations and other injuries have been detected in recent months.

Scientists from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport have responded to four dolphin strandings. And on Friday, a team went to Deer Island and found a second dolphin dead with a portion of his jaw missing.

Associated Press

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