NEW ORLEANS -- The oil exploration rig Deepwater Horizon sunk into the Gulf of Mexico around noon Thursday, a day and a half after it exploded into flames 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
According to the Coast Guard, there were several more explosions on the rig before it went down and the fire is now out.
Rescue crews have covered a nearly 2000 square mile search area, looking for 11 missing crew members.
Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry admits the probability of finding them alive is not good.
'We do continue with search and rescue activities in the offshore area of this mobile offshore drilling unit,' said Landry. 'As time passes however, the probability of success in locating the eleven missing persons decreases.'
Rig owner TransOcean VP Adrian Rose agrees that it's not likely any of the missing survived the blast.
'Based upon reports from our crew members we've met as they came in last night, at the time of the incident, they believe that they may have been aboard the rig, not able to evacuate,' said Rose.
Response crews, tried and failed to cap the well before the rig sunk.
There is already a one-mile by five-mile sheen of what is described as a crude oil mix on the surface of the water.
A vice president for British Petroleum, which contracted the rig, said there is now a potential for a major oil spill.
'At this point, I think there are still too many uncertainties for us to be able to estimate what the volume of the potential spill could be,' said BP's David Rainey. 'That's something that we're working on very hard. We'll keep you informed as our evaluation progresses.'
Crews are now working to cap the well below the surface of the Gulf.
'We continue to assist TransOcean in the effort to halt the flow of oil and gas from the well through the use of a remotely operated vehicle to activate the sub-sea, blowout preventer,' said Rainey.
New Orleans attorney Scott Bickford filed the first lawsuit in the rig explosion on behalf of the family of missing worker Shane Roshto of Amite, Mississippi. He's asking a judge to order investigators to preserve all of the evidence in the case.
'Do I think something bad happened? It certainly looks that way,' said Bickford. 'That's why we filed the suit and that's what we're going to investigate.'
Gov. Bobby Jindal released a statement saying that the state has activated its crisis action team.
The governor has called for a closed-door meeting Friday in Baton Rouge with the Departments of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Fisheries, and others responding to the spill.
According to TransOcean, right now there are five deepwater oil recovery vessels at the scene of the rig explosion with more on the way.
Skimming operations have already begun with a current capacity to recover about 170 barrels of crude oil a day.
Additional skimming capacity is expected to be added in the coming days.
There will soon be about 500,000 feet of boom floated around the oil spill.
A million feet of boom is expected to be on the water by Friday.