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UPDATE: Report: Uncontrolled Gas Release Led To Rig Fire

Three of the workers were employed by Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc.

Several workers missing after massive oil well explosion in Oklahoma.

4 p.m.

An initial report into a deadly natural gas rig explosion in Oklahoma indicates there was an uncontrolled release of gas that caught fire and that a worker at the scene tried unsuccessfully to shut down the well.

The incident report into the explosion and fire that killed five workers was released on Tuesday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations in the state.

The blast happened Monday morning at a drilling site near Quinton, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa. The explosion sent plumes of black smoke into the air and left a derrick crumpled on the ground.

Once the drilling site was stabilized on Tuesday, authorities recovered the remains of all five workers.

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3 p.m.

Officials say they have recovered the remains of five workers missing since an explosion at an Oklahoma gas drilling rig.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said Tuesday personnel from the state medical examiner’s office began searching for the workers about noon once the drilling site had been stabilized.

Morris says the bodies are being transported to Oklahoma City for identification.

The blast happened Monday morning at a drilling site near Quinton, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa. The explosion sent plumes of black smoke into the air and left a derrick crumpled on the ground.

Morris says the five employees who were killed were in an area of the drilling rig known as the “dog house” where the rig hands worked.

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Gas rig workers missing after fiery explosion in Oklahoma are presumed dead, authorities said Tuesday, and the search for the men has turned to a recovery mission.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said it’s been a difficult 24 hours for everyone involved since the Monday morning blast. His deputies and others have had the difficult task of notifying families of those lost.

“I think you can imagine, they’re not doing well,” Morris said during a press conference. “No law enforcement officer likes to do that. The family not knowing and feeling empty about where their loved ones are, it’s a tough situation.”

Morris also released the names of the five employees who are presumed dead. They include three from Oklahoma — Matt Smith of McAlester, Parker Waldridge of Crescent and Roger Cunningham from Seminole — and two from neighboring states, Josh Ray of Fort Worth, Texas; and Cody Risk of Wellington, Colorado.

“We want to learn from this,” he said. “We don’t want this to happen again for anybody in our industry.”

Three of the workers were employed by Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. Company president and CEO Andy Hendricks pledged a full investigation into the explosion.

“At this moment, no one knows with certainty what happened and it would be unwise to speculate. Well control experts and emergency responders are on site and we will conduct a thorough investigation when the incident is fully contained. We will provide updates as more facts are known.”

The explosion at the drilling site near Quinton, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa, sent plumes of black smoke into the air and left a derrick crumpled on the ground. For much of Monday, emergency officials were unable to get near the rig because the fire was still burning.

Emergency management officials said Monday night that the fire was extinguished. Authorities said 16 people who were on the site at the time of the blast escaped without major injuries. One person was airlifted to a hospital.

The cause of the blast is not yet known.

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