The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (Socar) has recovered a further six bodies of missing oil workers after a fire at Gunashli oil platform.

The platform in the Caspian Sea caught fire on 4 December. A total of 63 people were working on there when the blaze broke out, with 33 having been rescued so far and a further 23 still missing.

So far, seven people have been confirmed dead, with operations continuing to put out the blaze and locate the missing workers. Four ships have been deployed for rescue efforts and firefighting.

"The fire continues because of the remaining gas in the technological systems and pipe."

A joint statement from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, Ministry of Emergency Situations and prosecutor general read: "The fire still continues because of the remaining gas in the technological systems and pipe. The fire in the platform is assumed to pass to the oil and gas wells too."

The incident occurred when a natural gas pipeline was damaged after getting hit by waves during a heavy storm and part of the platform’s living quarters collapsed.

The pipeline ruptured during a storm that sent waves crashing against the Platform Number 10 rig of the field. North wind speeds reached 38m-40m per second and waves reached heights of 9m-10m. This broke the subsea gas line’s standpipe and reportedly caused the fire.

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The company closed oil and gas communication systems for the tenth deep-sea platform, and suspended production of 28 oil and gas wells to avoid further problems.

A lawsuit has been filed by the Azerbaijan Investigation Department for Serious Crimes of the Prosecutor General’s Office, under article 225.2 of the criminal code.