A U.S.-owned oil-drilling ship with 97 people aboard capsized early today after a typhoon swept through the Gulf of Thailand with 100-m.p.h. winds.
Carol Scott, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Unocal, which owns the ship, said in Bangkok that a company helicopter spotted a small overturned boat with a number of people clinging to it. She did not say how many people were seen.
Barry Lane, a Los Angeles spokesman for Unocal, said rescue efforts at the scene, about 270 miles south of Bangkok, were hampered by 6-foot waves.
He said ships and aircraft had been searching for the 351-foot Seacrest, a Panamanian-registered vessel, following a severe typhoon that lashed the area with 100-m.p.h. winds and 35-foot waves.
The ship was spotted with its bottom up by a Unocal vessel this morning, said Lane, who received the news from Unocal Thailand Ltd. officials in Bangkok.
Unocal officials said the crew included 67 Thai nationals and 30 workers from other countries, six of them Americans. Lane said the Seacrest is owned by a Unocal subsidiary and operated by Great Eastern Drilling and Engineering Co. of Singapore.
He said of the 97 on board, 77 are Great Eastern employees, one is a Unocal worker and 19 are from various other oil field companies.
Lane said a 60-foot-high drilling rig mounted in the center of the ship was stacked with drilling equipment, and there was concern the ship might have been too top-heavy to weather such a fierce storm.
He said the Seacrest had been operating in the Platong natural gas field and the crew was preparing to run casing into a recently drilled gas well. The vessel drills for both oil and gas.