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Russian Drilling Rig Sinks With 67 on Board; 53 Missing

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- A drilling platform with 67 Russians on board sank in a storm near Sakhalin Island off Russia’s Pacific coast after completing a job for OAO Gazprom. Only 14 people have been rescued so far, authorities said.

The Kolskaya jack-up rig, owned by OAO Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, capsized in the Sea of Okhotsk early today, the company said in a statement on its website. The platform was being towed to Sakhalin from the Kamchatka Peninsula, according to a statement on the website of the federal Investigative Committee.

While Yekaterina Potvorova, a spokeswoman at the regional Emergency Situations Ministry, had earlier said that four people had been spotted in the high seas with no signs of life, she said by phone from the city of Khabarovsk that information on the number of people dead could no longer be confirmed.

“The rescue efforts will continue at night, with the expected arrival of rescue vessels,” she said, adding that the works are hindered by “high waves and strong wind.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a probe into the platform wreckage, according to a statement on the Kremlin website. The Investigative Committee said unsafe towing without acknowledgment of weather conditions is one of the main reasons being considered.

Officials had no information about a possible fuel spill, Potvorova said.

The platform, built in 1985, had finished working off Kamchatka for Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural-gas producer, Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for the Moscow-based company, said by phone. The job ended on Dec. 4, and Gazprom had no contractual obligations with the rig’s owner as of Dec. 11, he said. Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, a unit of state-run oil producer OAO Zarubezhneft, has headquarters in the northwestern city of Murmansk.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Shiryaevskaya in Moscow at ashiryaevska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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