90 airlifted to safety after fire in North Sea oil platform

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London, Nov 26 (UNI) In a rescue operation, 90 of the 159 people on board the Thistle Alpha platform were airlifted to safety after a fire broke out in a remote North Sea oil platform.

Oil workers later returned after the fire was extinguished.

Yesterday's accident occured just a week after health and safety inspectors warned the North Sea offshore industry to tighten-up safety on its oil and gas installations.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had revealed that maintenance of appliances was not being given enough attention.

Nearly 100 North Sea installations were inspected over three years. In more than half the platforms the overall state of the plant was found to be poor. The report accused some senior managers of failing to make ongoing maintenance a priority.

Seven helicopters and a Nimrod from RAF Kinloss were scrambled to rescue the workers from the Thistle Alpha rig.

But the operation was later scaled down as the fire was brought under control, The Independent quoted RAF Kinloss spokesperson Michael Mulford as saying.

The rescue operation became difficult because of the bad weather conditions.

Workers were airlifted to three neighbouring oil platforms five or six miles away.

The blaze evoked memories of the Piper Alpha disaster which claimed the lives of 167 men in July 1988 and led to a raft of safety measure improvements. The North Sea tragedy remains the world's worst-ever offshore oil disaster.

UNI

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