Oil spill disaster documentary debuts this week

WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2010 -- Never-before-seen footage documenting first 36 hours of Gulf oil spill disaster will be shown in an exclusive National Geographic Channel program premiering Thursday, May 27...

• Never-before-seen footage documenting first 36 hours of Gulf oil spill disaster, to be shown in exclusive National Geographic Channel program premiering Thursday, May 27, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel

WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2010 -- On April 20, 2010, a Mayday call went out reporting an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. That first fateful call triggered an emergency response to save the rig from the deadly blaze, rescue crew members and try to avert an oil spill environmental disaster. Those were the chaotic first 36 hours before the magnitude of the catastrophe, as we know it today, would become clear. Now National Geographic Channel (NGC) is releasing that definitive firsthand story and footage of the first 36 hours following the explosion as told and captured by those on the scene.

In exclusive, never-before-seen footage obtained from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), NGC's production crew and the salvage company at the site, as well as through emotional eyewitness interviews and CGI analysis of the rig, NGC's documentary Gulf Oil Spill, premiering on Thursday, May 27, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, takes viewers to the point where it all began.

This unparalleled documentary of the first 36 hours includes coverage of the rig engulfed in flames, local vessels dousing the burning rig with water to stem the blaze and intense, close-up moments of the burning vessel sinking into the abyss. Coast Guard members speak emotionally about searching the seas for missing crew, and teams of mariners and engineers discuss trying to fight the fire at sea and save the vessel, ultimately to no avail.

"I could see the glow of the burning rig at 90 miles away," says USCG Lieutenant Lim. "I knew this was big ... like seeing hell on earth." Added Kurt Peterson, an elite swimming rescue member who worked to save the rig's drowning and injured crew, "I never had to deal with so many people at one time ... since Hurricane Katrina."

Salvage team masters describe their experience after working desperately to save the vessel and then watching it sink: "When you lose a vessel, it's a somber moment. You feel the loss, you feel the failure ... unfortunately for us, we were fighting a losing battle from the start. Unless that oil was cut off, there wasn't really too much anybody could have done to prevent the eventual outcome that we witnessed."

Finally, NGC interviews 23-year-old survivor Chris Choy, who says, "I kept thinking -- we're all dead ... I didn't know if I was the only person still on the rig or what." He continues, "It's something I'll never forget, images just burned into my head ... We got together in a big group and we figured we were missing 11 guys ... We just kept praying that someone would find them."

For more information, visit natgeotv.com/oil.

National Geographic Channel
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in more than 70 million homes. For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.

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