Twelve people are reportedly lost at sea following the capsizing of a vessel in so-called “microburst” winds off the coast of Louisiana.
Officials from the US Coast Guard were assisting in the search for survivors on Tuesday afternoon, with reports of “multiple people in the water” from at least one vessel, Fox 8 reported. Others are also assisting in the search.
Six individuals were rescued from the water, with as many as 18 thought to be on board the vessel that capsized in storm winds, south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, in the Gulf of Mexico.
The vessel, according to the Coast Guard, is a 129-foot lift boat, the Seacor Power. Similar boats are used in the operation of offshore drilling sites.
It was thought to be caught in 75mph winds before capsizing. A weather warning was issued by the US National Weather Service for “very strong winds” earlier on Tuesday.
The storm was thought to be a “microburst” – a life-threatening weather event that according to the National Weather service, takes place when a thunderstorm meet cooler air. The eye of the storm then descends on the water service, causing damage.
Images and descriptions of the storm were shared widely, with Louisiana resident Bruce J. Simon writing on Facebook that he had “NEVER Heard soo many MAYDAY calls” in his life, while aboard his own vessel on Tuesday.
He added that waves were “breaking over the bow” and that other boats, including a lifeboat, were capsizing or were taking on water, writing: “Please pray for the Lost”.
In a brief statement to Twitter, Louisiana senator John Kennedy said that he was “praying for everyone around Grand Isle and all the communities in South Louisiana”.
A spokesman for the US Coast Guard toldThe New York Times on Tuesday night that "we're still searching for more people”.
Conditions for Wednesday are set to be similar to Tuesday’s, with warnings of severe weather and flash flooding in effect for the region until Thursday morning, reported Reuters.