One person was killed and 12 remain missing after a commercial vessel capsized off the coast of Louisiana amid extreme weather on Tuesday, officials said.
The Coast Guard said in a statement that its members, with help from several Good Samaritans, plucked six people from the waters about eight miles south of Port Fourchon, and were continuing to search for more.
"As of now, we have rescued six survivors who were safely transferred to shore," Cpt. Will Watson, Deputy Commander, Sector New Orleans, said in a press conference on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we recovered one individual on the surface of the water deceased and the search effort continues for the remaining 12."
Nineteen crew members were on board the Seacor Power vessel when it departed Port Fourchon around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Watson said.
Coast Guard watchstanders received word that the 129-foot commercial lift vessel was in distress around 4:30 p.m., and issued an urgent marine information broadcast to call for help.
Multiple Good Samaritan boat crews responded to the broadcast, and were able to rescue four people, the statement said.
Additional rescues were made by the Coast Guard Cutter Glenn Harris, a 154-boot boat that arrived on the scene within 30 minutes, as well as a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Grand Isle, according to the statement.
The boat's struggles came amid a "wake low," a weather phenomenon brought on by a series of thunderstorms that can bring winds of 70 to 80 mph, National Weather Service New Orleans meteorologist Benjamin Schott told NBC News.
"There was a microburst of weather that came through the area at the time of the incident," Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally told NOLA.com. "I don't know whether that was the cause, but what we can say is that inclement weather did hit the area at the time."
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Watson said that winds were between 80 and 90 mph at the time of the incident, and there was "extremely limited visibility," with 7 to 9 foot seas.
"My heart and the collective heart of our team goes out to the families and to Seacor, but we're giving it all we have," he said of the rescue mission, noting the incident was still under investigation.
According to NOLA.com, it was a Seacor Power commercial lift vessel, which is designed to become an offshore platform by dropping three large legs to the sea floor. In this case, the vessel flipped over, and witness footage shows one of the three legs sticking straight into the air.