Five people missing and 17 rescued after series of explosions rip through an Oklahoma oil rig

Oklahoma Rig Explosion
  • The explosion happened at approximately 8.45am Monday in eastern Oklahoma
  • There were more than 20 employees at the well when the explosion occured 
  • Fires continued for hours after the incident

Five people are reported as missing after an explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig on Monday. More than 20 employees were at the natural gas well site when the blast was reported around 8.45am.

Aerial footage shows several fires still burning at midday on the rig and other equipment; the derrick, a towering metal structure above the well, collapsed onto the ground.

The explosion occurred west of the town of Quinton, about 100 miles southeast of Tulsa.

Due to other explosions emergency crews had to be pulled back from the site, where several tanks are also located.

Firefighters let the blaze burn and did not put water on it, in order to stop spreading possible hazardous materials at the site.

17 workers were pulled from the site following the blast, including one who suffered minor burns and was treated at the scene. The local woodland area was also searched in case anyone had sought protection there.

Confirmation of any fatalities won’t happen until the fire is extinguished and investigators can get to the scene of the explosion, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office.

The drilling site was being operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating. The company has not had any incidents or complaints in the last five years.