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19/11/2012: PH Envoy Now in Louisiana to Attend to Oil Rig Victims

19 November 2012
As of 1600H EST

NEW ORLEANS—Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. arrived here this morning to personally look into the condition of four Filipino contract workers who are being treated for the serious burns they sustained in Friday’s oil platform fire off the coast of Louisiana that also left one Filipino dead and another missing.

Ambassador Cuisia joined three other consular officers who were dispatched here on Sunday to also attend to the remains of the lone fatality, monitor the search for the missing Filipino worker and assist the families of the four injured victims.

In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs is making arrangements for the travel to the United States of family members of the injured contract workers. The Office of American Affairs said the Department had issued passports to the family members and has requested the US Embassy to facilitate the issuance of their visas.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta has assured family members of the six victims that the DFA will exert every effort to assist them. He said the families of three of the four injured victims were at the DFA on Monday and were able to talk to Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro Jr. by phone in New Orleans who assured them that the three Filipino workers are being properly taken care of.

Deputy Consul General Castro also told the families that Ambassador Cuisia will be flying from Washington D.C. to personally see to it that the Philippine Government extends all possible assistance to the affected Filipinos.

Ambassador Cuisia will proceed with Deputy Consul General Castro, Welfare Officer Saul de Vries and Assistant Labor Officer Oliver Flores to the Baton Rouge General Hospital where two of the four injured Filipinos remain in critical condition. One is in serious but stable condition while the last one, Wilberto Ilagan, 50, is in fair condition. He will meet with hospital officials and take part in a press conference this afternoon.

The Ambassador will also look into the preparations for the repatriation to the Philippines of the remains of the lone fatality, Elroy Corporal, 42, and the ongoing search efforts for the missing Filipino worker.

He will also meet with officials of D&R Resources, the US-based firm that recruited the Filipinos as well as representatives of Grand Isle Shipyard Inc. and Black Elk Energy, the contractor and owner of the ill-fated oil production platform respectively. He will also check on the three other Filipino contract workers who figured in the incident.

The three were among the nine Filipino and five non-Filipinos from Gulf Isle working on the oil platform at the time of the explosion but it still could not be confirmed whether the three suffered minor injuries or were unhurt.

The nine Filipinos among an estimated 154 welders, structural fitters, scaffolders and riggers who were hired in the Philippines to work in offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.###