Over at Grist, Jess Zimmerman points to some rarely-seen photos of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform disaster. These were posted in a digital camera forum shortly after the disaster began to unfold, and were apparently taken by oilfield workers on the scene. They show what must have been the very first moments after the explosion, with the platform slowly getting wrapped in flame and smoke, and then beginning to sink.
LTZ470, who first posted the photos in Steve's Digicam Forum in 2010, wrote:
The shots are from various oilfield hands, boat capt's and seaman aboard the vessels in the Gulf of Mexico…my younger brother was 30 miles away and watching it burn and sink…I was just posting them as I recieved them to allow others to see what an oilfield blowout looks like this was a catastrophic failure and they had about 2 seconds to respond and it takes us that long to even think…it ignited and killed them or took all the oxygen away before they could get out…
Later, the Deepwater Horizon explosion became one of the century's worst environmental disasters because it took months to cap the gushing oil well again. Wildlife and ecosystems were ruined throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
But when these shots were taken by ordinary people on the scene, we witness the first seconds of what was, at the time, simply unimaginable.