ROXANNE REDUX: STORM HITS SHIPPING BARGE CARRYING AMERICANS SINKS

ROXANNE REDUX: STORM HITS SHIPPING BARGE CARRYING AMERICANS SINKS

Ports along Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and eastern coastline Monday prepared for the return of Hurricane Roxanne, which was headed on an eastward romp, complicating search efforts for as many as 35 crewmembers of a sunken oil- service barge.

The storm has killed at least one person.After roaring across the peninsula and battering Gulf of Mexico ports late last week, Roxanne stunned weather forecasters by making an about-face, heading eastward to smash coastal oil port cities in the states of Tabasco and Campeche.

Roxanne-related bad weather sunk an oil service barge in the Campeche Sound Sunday night, with about 245 people on board. About 30 U.S. citizens were believed to be aboard the barge owned by CCC Fabricaciones y Construcciones. One American was confirmed dead on Monday.

Some 20 to 35 offshore oil workers were missing Monday afternoon; the rest were said to have been rescued. A U.S. Coast Guard aircraft from Clearwater, Fla., aided in the search Monday.

A Coast Guard vessel from Clearwater was also steaming across the Gulf of Mexico to aid in the search for the missing men. Rescue efforts were complicated Monday by 30-foot swells and 60-mile-per-hour winds, said Melissa Cooper, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

Further complicating efforts, Hurricane Roxanne was heading back to the Campeche coastal area and was some 70 miles north northwest of the rescue efforts on Monday afternoon.

According to the U.S. Consulate in Merida, the dead American had been identified but his name was being withheld pending notification of family. There was confusion Monday as to whether U.S. citizens were among those unaccounted for in the angry seas.

"We thought they were at first, but we don't know anymore," said Ms. Cooper.

The barge sank at 6:45 p.m. central standard time on Sunday night some 30 miles west of Champoton in Campeche state.

Officials of the barge line, which is assumed to have been bringing the men back from oil platforms and is said to have been equipped with life jackets, could not be reached at offices in Campeche state.

The state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) shut down all operations in the Campeche Sound on Sunday when it became evident Roxanne was making a return.

Transportacion Maritima Mexicana (TMM), Mexico's largest steamship line, suspended all cabotage transport conducted for Pemex. Its North Europe liner service was also affected by Roxanne. TMM held up a vessel heading south to Veracruz, choosing to have it berth in Altamira for a few days until calm returned.