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18/11/2012: Body of One of Two Missing Filipino Oil Platform Workers in Louisiana Recovered

18 November 2012
Updated 0140H EST

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy has confirmed that the body recovered a few hours ago near the offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that was hit by fire on Friday belonged to one of two missing Filipino workers.

“We regret to announce that the body that was recovered near the accident scene a few hours ago belongs to one of our two missing kababayans,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said as he expressed his condolences to the family of the victim. “We continue to hope and pray that our other kababayan is still alive and would be recovered soon.”

The Embassy said the identification was made by Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., the employer of the victim, shortly after the body was brought on shore. The Embassy, however, did not release the identity of the fatality pending notification of next of kin.

The identification of the victim came shortly after the US Coast Guard informed the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago that divers hired to assess damage to the platform recovered a body near the incident site a few hours after the search for the two missing Filipinos was called off.

Ambassador Cuisia said four Filipinos were also injured in the incident and are being treated for serious burns at the Regional Burn Center of the Baton Rouge General Hospital also in Louisiana. Doctors there said two of the burn victims are in critical condition while the other two are 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. ###