5 missing employees after Oklahoma rig explosion presumed dead, official says

5 missing employees after Oklahoma...

The five employees reported missing after an Oklahoma rig explosion Monday are presumed dead, officials said Tuesday.

The search for the workers has turned into a recovery mission after the blast in eastern Oklahoma, Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said at a news conference.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that were involved in this rig explosion yesterday," he said at a news conference. 

Morris identified the employees as: Josh Ray of Fort Worth, Texas; Matt Smith of McAlester, Okla.; Cody Risk of Wellington, Colo.; Parker Waldridge of Crescent, Okla.; and Roger Cunningham of Seminole, Okla.

The sheriff added that it's been a difficult 24 hours since the blast happened at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, with deputies and others tasked with the difficult chore of notifying families of those lost.

"I think you can imagine, they're not doing well," Morris said Tuesday. "No law enforcement officer likes to do that. The family not knowing and feeling empty about where their loved ones are, it's a tough situation."

Three of the workers were employed by Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. Company president and CEO Andy Hendricks pledged a full investigation into the explosion.

"We want to learn from this," Hendricks told reporters. "We don't want this to happen again for anybody in our industry."

Authorities said the men were at a depth of 13,500 feet drilling to 17,000 feet when the blast took place, FOX25 News reported.

Sixteen people who were on the site at the time of the blast escaped without major injuries. One person was airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

The explosion about 100 miles southeast of Tulsa sparked several fires and sent thick black smoke into the air. The derrick, a towering metal structure above the well, also collapsed.


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