Coast Guard: 4 remain missing, 6 hospitalized after pipeline explosion in Corpus Christi

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (KXAN) — Four people remain missing, while six others are currently hospitalized after a major fire caused by an explosion at the Port of Corpus Christi.

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality provided an update on the situation late Friday afternoon.

The Coast Guard reported that it helped recover two people in the water after the explosion. They suffered burns, and they are now receiving medical attention for those injuries. The Coast Guard confirmed that crews are still searching for four people.

Corpus Christi Fire Department Deputy Chief Billy Breedlove said a barge hit a pipeline Friday morning, which resulted in an explosion, according to Caller Times.

KRIS TV reports that the new underwater pipeline ruptured at the barge loading dock, and the owner of the barge said multiple employees were working at the site at the time of the explosion. The fire engulfed the barge and then spread from the pipeline to a grain elevator, according to the report.

A representative from Orion Marine Group told reporters Friday that 19 of its crew members were involved in the fire. 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, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that a temporary flight restriction is in place in the area so that the search efforts are not affected by air traffic. The inner harbor remains closed, too. Approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel spilled because of the explosion and fire. The damaged pipeline has been secured, according to the port officials.

Governor Greg Abbott issued the following statement after hearing reports of the pipeline explosion:

The State of Texas is working closely with local partners in Corpus Christi as well as the Coast Guard to assist with emergency response efforts following the explosion. Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Department of Public Safety personnel are already on the ground to provide support, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring air quality in the area. The state stands ready to provide any additional personnel and resources needed to address this event and keep Texans in the area safe. We will continue to monitor the situation, and I ask all Texans to pray for the men and women responding to the explosion and for the safety of those in the area.

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