A rupture in an undersea gas pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico has sent flames boiling to the surface of the sea.

Mexico's state-owned oil firm, Petroleos Mexicanos, said it had dispatched fire control boats to pump more water over the flames.

Pemex, as the company is known, said no-one was injured in the incident in the offshore Ku-Maloob-Zaap field.

The leak near dawn on Friday occurred about 150 yards from a drilling platform. The company said it had brought the gas leak under control about five hours later.

But the accident gave rise to the strange sight of balls of flame boiling up from below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is unclear how much environmental damage was caused by the gas leak and oceanic fireball.

Pemex said in a statement: "The incident was dealt with immediately when the security protocols were activated and with the accompaniment of nearby firefighting vessels such as Santa Cruz Island, Campeche Bay and Bourbon Alienor.

"In addition, the interconnection valves in the pipeline were closed, extinguishing the fire and the gas release, ending the contingency around 10.45am and restoring normal operating conditions."

Miyoko Sakashita, oceans programme director for the Center for Biological Diversity, wrote: "The frightening footage of the Gulf of Mexico is showing the world that offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous."

Ms Sakashita added: "These horrific accidents will continue to harm the Gulf if we don't end offshore drilling once and for all."

A source told Reuters news agency that the "turbomachinery" of the plant's "active production facilities were affected by an electrical storm and heavy rains".

This was not mentioned in the statement from Pemex however.