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18/11/2012: Embassy Verifying if Body Recovered Near Oil Rig Belongs to One of Two Missing Filipino Workers

18 November 2012
Updated 0030H EST

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy is verifying whether the body recovered on Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila) near the offshore oil platform that was hit by fire in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday belonged to one of two missing Filipino workers.

In a statement, the Embassy said the United States Coast Guard informed the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago that divers hired to assess damage to the platform recovered the body near the incident site.

The Embassy said it is hoping to receive confirmation on the identity of the body when it is brought onshore in the next few hours.

The recovery came shortly after the Coast Guard called off its search for the two Filipinos who were earlier reported missing in the incident that also critically injured four other Filipinos.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said the four injured Filipinos are being treated for serious burns at the Regional Burn Center of the Baton Rouge General Hospital also in Louisiana where two are listed in critical condition and the other two in serious condition.

Three other Filipinos were working on the oil platform at the time of the incident but the envoy said the Embassy could not immediately confirm whether they were among the nine workers that the US Coast Guard said were hurt in the incident.

Reports that reached the Embassy a few hours after the incident initially placed the number of injured Filipinos at 13 with two unaccounted for in the incident. According to the latest reports, the victims were among the nine Filipinos and five non-Filipinos working on the oil production platform located 25 miles off Grand Isle, Louisiana, when the fire broke out.

Ambassador Cuisia said Welfare Officer Saul de Vries will be proceeding to Baton Rouge to check on the condition of the injured Filipino oil workers and see what assistance the Philippine Government could extend to them or their families in the Philippines.

According to information reaching the Embassy, the Filipinos are all employees of Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., which provides manpower to Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, the Houston-based independent oil and gas company that owns the stricken platform.

They are among an estimated 162 welders, fitters, scaffolders and riggers who were hired in the Philippines, through  D&R Resources and its partner agency in Manila, D&R Offshore Crewing Services Resources, to work in offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim said the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago had earlier been coordinating with US Coast Guard authorities and continues to monitor the situation. He said Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro is also in touch with Grand Isle and with Black Elk Energy. ###