12/18/2011 06:24 EST | Updated 02/17/2012 05:12 EST

Oil platform capsizes in Russian Far East, 4 dead, 49 missing

MOSCOW - An oil drilling platform capsized Sunday in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia's east coast, leaving four workers confirmed dead and 49 missing.

The Emergencies Ministry said in a statement Sunday that there were 67 people aboard the platform as it was being towed about 200 kilometres (120 miles) off the coast of Sakhalin Island in stormy conditions. It said 14 people had been rescued.

A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry in the Far East, told the Associated Press that the rescue team has found four lifeless bodies in the water, but has not yet retrieved them.

The search operation is hampered by a fierce storm in the area. The Transportation Ministry said the platform started sinking after a strong wave broke some of its equipment and portholes in the crew's dining room.

The Investigative Committee on Sunday opened a probe into the accident and said that it might have happened because of a breach of safety regulations or due to the weather conditions.

There were no reports of environmental damage and it would be unlikely since the platform was not drilling for oil when it capsized.