Update: Obama promises criminal probe into Deepwater Horizon disaster

Calling for a "full and vigorous accounting" of the facts, President Obama demanded Tuesday that the ongoing probe into the Deepwater Horizon disaster keep open to the possibility of criminal charges.

"They have my full support to follow the facts wherever they may lead, without fear or favor," he told press gathered in the White House Rose Garden, according to published reports.

"We have an obligation to determine what went wrong," he said, according to The New York Times.

Pledging to strengthen laws and reform regulatory measures to prevent another similar disaster from occurring, Obama vowed: "If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region."

"Only then can we be assured that deep-water drilling can take place safely," the president added, according to The Washington Post. "Only then can we accept further development of these resources as we transition to a clean energy economy. Only then can we be confident that we've done what's necessary to prevent history from repeating itself."

Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed earlier in the day that criminal and civil investigations had been progressing, but did not state the parties under closest scrutiny.

Prior reporting continues below...

The Associated Press reports:

Attorney General Eric Holder says federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Holder would not specify Tuesday which companies or individuals might be the targets of the probe. He says federal clean air and pollution laws give him the power to open the investigations.

The United States has launched both a civil and criminal investigation into the massive oil spill gushing out of a BP-leased rig, US Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.

"We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who has violated the law," Holder told reporters. "We will not rest until justice is done."

Holder said the criminal probe began "some weeks ago" but declined to elaborate on what kind of charges could be laid.

(with AFP reports)