UPDATE 2-Second person dies from blast at Chesapeake well site

(Reuters) – An explosion this week at a Texas oil well has claimed a second fatal victim, and two others injured by the blast remain hospitalized, Chesapeake Energy Corp, said on Friday.

The oilfield worker, who was not identified, was a contractor and died on Thursday night from blast injuries, said Chesapeake, the operator of the well. Another contract worker died on Wednesday from the same incident.

Two other employees who were among three originally airlifted to medical centers in Austin and Houston remain hospitalized, Chesapeake said. It provided no details on their condition.

None of the victims have been identified.

The fire was extinguished on Thursday, state officials reported earlier.

Employees of Alice, Texas-based Forbes Energy Services and Eagle Pressure Control, were among those working at the Chesapeake well, the state’s oil and gas regulator said on Friday. There were 11 people on the scene in total, the commission said.

Eagle Pressure Control and Forbes did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment.

The well blowout occurred on Wednesday during a well servicing operation at a remote site near Deanville, Texas, about 75 miles (121 km) east of Austin.

The workers were in the process of upgrading the well when a surge of natural gas ignited, prompting the blast. The source of the ignition has not been identified, according the report.

The company plans to remove the rig involved in the incident and secure the well, an inspector with the Texas Railroad Commission wrote on Thursday.

The fatalities were the first in Texas involving a well blowout since April 2013, according to data from the state’s energy regulator. A blowout involves a sudden, high-pressure release of oil or gas from a well.

The number of workers in Texas injured during well blowouts has declined in recent years amid the rise in shale drilling.

Nine workers were injured in blowouts last year, compared with 14 in 2017 and 21 in 2016, state data showed.

Reporting by Liz Hampton and Gary McWilliams; Editing by Dan Grebler and Alistair Bell

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