Friday, March 27, 2009

Today in History: Wreck of the Alexander Kielland

Today marks the 27th anniversary of Norway's worst maritime disaster since the WWII era. On this day in 1980 the Norwegian semi-submersible rig, Alexander Kielland, capsized with more than 200 workers on board. The rig capsized in the Ekofisk oil field, which is approximately 320 km east of Dundee, Scotland.

Of the more than 200 men on board when the event took place, 123 were killed and less than 90 survived the ordeal. While there were more than enough life rafts, the high death toll was mostly due to the facts the capsizing happened very quickly--in a matter of minutes--and that most of the workers were caught in the mess hall and/or cinema areas of the rig. Also, it was determined that some safety features of the life rafts actually worked against rescue efforts in disabling the rafts and not allowing them to float free of the rig.

The wreckage was massive and it would take more than three years to recover all the bodies before the rig could be scuttled.

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