Tracking the Tropics
7 oil workers found alive in Gulf of Mexico
VERACRUZ, Mexico (AP) -- Seven of 10 oil workers missing in the Gulf of Mexico were found alive Sunday after three days at sea, according to Mexico's state oil company.
Petroleos Mexicanos said in the statement that two bodies also were found but have yet to be identified and one worker remains missing.
The survivors were four Mexicans, two Americans and a worker from Bangladesh, the statement said. They were found 51 miles off the coast of the gulf state of Campeche.
The employees of Houston-based Geokinetics Inc. called for help Thursday afternoon after evacuating to an enclosed life raft in the middle of Tropical Storm Nate, which disabled their vessel, a liftboat called the Trinity II.
Nate weakened to a tropical depression Sunday over Mexico's Gulf coast, where officials opened shelters as a precaution but said the storm was having little impact.
Nate made landfall as a tropical storm on Sunday north of Barra de Nautla in the state of Veracruz, where Gov. Javier Duarte said there were no reports of damage or injuries and rivers remained below risk level.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that by Sunday evening Nate had weakened to a depression with 35 mph winds and was expected to dissipate by Monday.
Pemex and the Mexican navy led the search by air and sea, which intensified Saturday as the storm moved west toward the coast of Veracruz. A dozen fishermen who disappeared aboard two shrimp boats on Friday in the gulf during the storm.
The Trinity II, a 94-foot, 185-ton liftboat, can lower legs to the sea floor and then elevate itself above the water level. This one was being used as a recording vessel and housing for the crew, and it was in waters about 25 feet deep.
Geokinetics spokeswoman Brenda Taquino said the life raft was a sealed capsule containing enough food and water to last several days.
On Sunday evening, Nate's center was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Tuxpan, Mexico and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.
Of more than 2,200 shelters set up in Veracruz state, only two were in use, housing little more than 50 people, civil protection authorities said. In the city of Antigua, Mayor Arturo Navarrete told radio station XEU that there was light rain and very little wind.
In the Caribbean on Sunday, Tropical Storm Maria was centered about 105 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with winds that had strengthened to 60 mph. The hurricane center said it was moving northwest at about 10 mph, toward the open Atlantic.
Residents in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico said they were relieved that Maria was not stronger and its heavy winds were well north of the islands.
"What storm? It didn't hit us," said Karen Freeman, a resident of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. She had bought a $250 generator in advance of the storm, but now was hoping to get a refund.
In Puerto Rico, where there were no reports of any damage or flooding from Maria, 43-year-old Laura Melendez said she had been worried about the storm's potential impact on the U.S. territory, which is still trying to recover from Hurricane Irene, which barreled through the region in late August, killing at least eight people.
"Irene was a bad one. My family lost electricity at home for five days. We had no running water," she said during a Sunday afternoon phone interview from the capital of San Juan.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)