1988 News Flash: High death toll feared in Oil Rig Blaze
- A fire on a North Sea Oil Rig is feared to have claimed the lives of many of those on board.
- The fire is believed to have started after explosions at about 2230 BST (2130 GMT) on the Piper Alpha drilling platform, 120 miles (193km) off the north-east coast of Scotland.
- Helicopters and boats were immediately scrambled to rescue the oil workers in an operation coordinated by the Aberdeen coastguard.
- Pilots reported seeing an "inferno" up to 350ft (107m) high and a platform wrenched apart.
- It is thought approximately 225 men were working on the rig owned by Occidental Oil.
- Survivors are being airlifted to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary – many are seriously injured.
- Most of those who have been rescued so far said they survived by sliding down pipes or jumping hundreds of feet into the sea which was covered in burning oil.
- The Piper Alpha platform is the largest and oldest platform in the North Sea oilfield.
- Last week there was a small fire on the rig.
- Since drilling began in the North Sea in the 1970s there have been 300 deaths on Britain 's 123 oil installations, often in accidents caused by bad weather.
- The ill-maintained and overloaded North Sea oil rig Piper Alpha was destroyed in a fire nearly 18 years ago.
gas on the Occidental Oil drilling platform ignited late in the evening
of 6 July 1988 , causing a devastating blaze which killed 167 of the
226 men on board.
- Many of the oil workers leapt 100ft (30m)
into the sea to escape the fire and toxic fumes, despite being told
their jump would almost certainly be fatal.
- It is still the world's worst-ever offshore oil disaster.
- A total of 167 people died in the Piper Alpha fire making it the world's worst-ever offshore oil disaster.
- Most of the victims suffocated in toxic fumes, which developed after a gas leak set off the blasts and sparked the fire.
November 1990 Lord Cullen's report into the disaster severely
criticised safety procedures on the rig owned by Occidental Oil.
Cullen did not blame any individuals but after a civil action over
insurance payments in 1997 two workers who died in the disaster were
found to have been negligent.
- However, that finding has been contested both by relatives of the men concerned and television documentary investigations.
See also: http://www.safetyline.wa.gov.au/institute/level1/course6/lecture98/l98_02.asp
Some words from children of those who died
Helen Becker writes:
My dad, Andy Mochan, survived the horror that was Piper Alpha.
Sadly, he died on 2 April 2004 . The sense of loss I feel is immense.
I have, however, taken solace from the fact that my father came home
after 6 July 1988 . I have 16 extra years of memories.
My dad lived with the terrible burden that he survived whilst others
perished. His legacy to the oil industry is the campaigning he did at
every available opportunity to improve safety on the rigs and in work
places in general.
His spirit will live on in Aberdeen as his remains were cast in the Piper Alpha memorial gardens and in the North Sea .
My thoughts are with everyone who was blighted by Piper Alpha.
Amy Mcleod writes:
My grandad, Edward Crowden, died on the Piper Alpha in the explosion on
the night of July 6th. To this day I remember the pain and turmoil my
mum and aunties went through, although I was only four years old.
There is always a longing in my heart for him and I know that we all
miss him so bad.
But he loved his job and his family - unfortunately he never got to
meet all his grandchildren. I still have the last thing he ever gave me
and I will never let it go.
I send my heart felt thoughts to everyone who lost someone that night because it should never have happened.
My dad was one of the 167 men that lost their lives on the Piper Alpha.
I was only 13 at the time and a true "daddy's girl". Losing my dad was
the worst thing that has ever happened to me and to this day I miss him
For many years I thought that he might have survived and be living
somewhere on a remote Scottish island. Sounds silly, but that way I
didn't have to think that he'd never be coming home. My life has a
vacant space in it that no-one will ever fill.
Victor Ward writes:
On 7 July 1988 I was seven years old, and on that day my life changed
dramatically. When I woke up, hearing voices downstairs, my mum came
upstairs to tell me about an accident which had happened the night
My Dad died on the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster in the accommodation
deck, of smoke inhalation. I was seven, and didn't understand what my
mum meant when she said my dad was missing and presumed dead.
For the next seven years I convinced myself that the body that was
brought home to us was not my dad. My dad had amnesia and was living
on an island somewhere where I would find him, eventually!
When I turned 14 and my dad had been gone for half my life, I realised
that he was not coming home. I cried and cried, because it took half my
life before I realised that he was really dead.