VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico – Air and sea search teams intensified their hunt Saturday for 10 missing oil workers as Tropical Storm Nate headed west, threatening new areas of Mexico’s gulf coast where hurricane conditions are expected.

Meanwhile, fishermen groups reported that at least a dozen of their colleagues aboard two Mexican shrimp boats vanished in the gulf Friday.

Nate was still moving toward the coast very slowly but was expected to pick up speed Saturday, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Forecasters said the storm would reach the coast today, most likely with near hurricane intensity.

Helicopters from the Mexican navy and the state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, left ports along the coast of Tabasco state to scour the sea, while other crews searched the beaches closest to the spot where the 10 abandoned their disabled liftboat for an enclosed life raft in the storm about midday Thursday.

“The hope is that we find them alive at sea,” said one navy rescuer searching the beach at Frontera on the Tabasco coast. He didn’t give his name because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the news media.

By Saturday afternoon, authorities said they still had no sign of the workers, who were employees of Houston-based Geokinetics and who called for help Thursday afternoon after leaving the vessel Trinity II.

The missing include four U.S. workers, four Mexican workers, one worker from Kazakhstan and a 10th employee of unconfirmed nationality.

Mexico’s National Water Commission reported that the rain had diminished significantly in the Bay of Campeche where the workers disappeared as Nate raged more than 120 miles away from the area, threatening the coast of Veracruz state.

Meanwhile, fishermen associations in Campeche reported that two shrimp boats with at least a dozen people have been missing since Friday. They were in the gulf heading to the state of Tamaulipas when they were surprised by the tropical storm.