Panic and a fiaming life jacket caused the deaths of three men in yesterday's-oil barge disaster.
This was the story brought back by survivors on the $40 million Marina 1, a drilling barge owned by Santa Fe Drilling Company, a contracting firm for Amoco Trinidad oil company.
The rig blew upandcaughtfirearound 4 a.m. yesterday.
Three men who dived into the sea after two explosions died by drowning. Three of 71 workers were seriously injured. Six others were treated at hospital and sent home.
Dead are:Owen Straker, 44 ^of Ixora Street Pieasantville, San Fernando, an employee of Schlumberger Trinidad.
Thomas Melville ,39, of Gooding Street, San Fernando a Schlumberger crane operator.
Walter Phillip, 38, of La Savannie, New Lands, Guapo, of Santa Fe Drilling.
Eyewitnesses said one of men who died jumped into the sea with his life jacket on fire.
The other two men who drowned panicked and did not put on their life jackets properly, fellow workers said.
Seriously injured are Carlos Stoute, 42, of Gaston Bay, who received injuries to his head and leg, Hilton Mark, 38, of Foster Road, Sangre Granite and Calvin Coverley, 32, an American who was burned about the body.
Stoute and Coverley are at the Port of Spain General Hospital while Mark is warded at the Sangre Grande Hospital.
American Leon Waldinger and Fred Doss, 29, a Canadian citizen residing in the United States, were among those treated at
hospital and sent home.
A helicopter brought the injured to the city.
And hospital staff were put on emergency standby.
Over 75 perent of the multi-million dollar barge was destroyed, it was learned, Company officials were unable to give in
estimate of the damages.
Describing the disaster one man who was aboard the barge when it happened, said:
"At about 4.15 a.m. we heard an explosion and the alarm was sounded which indicated we should abandon the barge.
By a radius of about 10 feet of the barge was in flames. When we were attempting to get off there was a second explosion and Straker's life .jacket caught fire and he drowned."
Then workers told of panic life boats out of reach and a long wait for rescue.
Said one: "Melville and Phillip panicked and did not put on their life jackets properly and died in the
Another added : "There were" four life rafts attached to the barge, but only one could have been used as the other three
were on the side where the fire started.
"The only raft available could not hold all the men and it was about three hours before a standby boat was able to rescue