WASHINGTON (AFP) – Under-fire BP chief executive Tony Hayward issued an apology Wednesday for saying in an interview that he would "like my life back," as a massive oil spill wreaks devastation along the Gulf coast.
"I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that 'I wanted my life back,'" Hayward said in a post to BP America's Facebook page.
"When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident," he said.
Eleven rig workers aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling platform were killed when it exploded on April 20, sinking two days later into the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, according to government estimates, at least 20 million gallons have leaked into the waters.
Despite BP's efforts to cap the flow, thick crude continues to ooze into the Gulf of Mexico's fragile wetlands and once-pristine tourist beaches, killing wildlife and their habitats and destroying the local fishing and tourism-based economy.
"Those words don't represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don't represent the hearts of the people of BP -- many of whom live and work in the Gulf -- who are doing everything they can to make things right," Hayward said in the post.
"My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families -- to restore their lives, not mine."
In an interview with NBC on Sunday, Hayward had begun to offer an apology to Gulf residents "for the massive disruption it's caused to their lives."
He continued: "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back."
The environmental disaster -- the worst in US history -- has badly damaged BP's reputation, with its shares sliding 2.13 percent Wednesday a day after plunging 13 percent, wiping 17.6 billion dollars off its market value.
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