North Dakota oil rig explosion kills 2

WILLISTON, NORTH DAKOTA (BNO NEWS) — The death toll after Wednesday’s oil rig explosion in North Dakota has risen to two while two others remain hospitalized, local media reported Friday.

The oil well, which is operated by Oasis Petroleum of Texas, exploded on Wednesday in the town of Williston, located in North Dakota’s McKenzie County. County Sheriff Ron Rankin told the Bismarck Tribune that a second person has died.

The second fatal victim was identified as Ray Hardy, of Mohall, who succumbed to his wound on Thursday after being airlifted from Mercy Medical Center in Williston to Region’s Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Brendan Wegner, 21, of Montello, Wisconsin, was previously killed at the scene of the explosion as rescue workers arrived and found his burnt body at the scene. Two others who remain hospitalized – Doug Hysjulien, of Williston, and Michael Twinn, of Tioga – were reported in critical condition in St. Paul’s burn center.

Emergency operations were stalled due to construction on Highway 85, forcing company personnel to transport the three initial survivors by car to Williston ambulances which had responded to the incident.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation into the accident, as oil rig deaths have been increasing with seven deaths in the past year.

OSHA area manager Tim Deutscher told the media outlet that one of the first questions authorities look into is whether the victims were wearing fire retardant clothing, as not all companies have shown adequate responsibility in assessing fire risk, failing to require the proper clothing at job sites.

Oasis Petroleum of Texas chief operating officer Taylor Reid is cooperating with the on-site probe by OSHA officials, as authorities continue to investigate the reason of the incident.

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