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23/11/2012: Filipino Burn Victim in Louisiana Oil Platform Fire Dies

23 November 2012
Updated 2100H EST

WASHINGTON, D.C.—One of four Filipino oil workers seriously injured in the explosion and fire that struck the oil platform they were working on in the Gulf of Mexico last week passed away this morning, the Philippine Embassy said.

“The Embassy has been informed of the sad news that one of our kababayans injured in the November 16 incident in the Gulf of Mexico, Avelino L. Tajonera, passed away early this morning in the presence of his loved ones,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said. “The Filipino nation joins his family in grieving over their loss.”

Ambassador Cuisia said Tajonera, who was one of two workers listed in critical condition, died early on Friday (Saturday in Manila), shortly after the arrival of his widow and three children from Manila.

Tajonera, 49, a welder from Dinalupihan, Bataan, died as a result of complications from major burn injuries he sustained in the incident, the Baton Rouge General Hospital said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

Ambassador Cuisia said he was informed of Tajonera’s death by Randolf Malagapo, Executive Manager of the US-based D&R Resources, which hired him and the other injured Filipinos to work in Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry.

Malagapo informed the Embassy that the members of Tajonera’s family were able to see him at the Regional Burn Unit of the Hospital shortly after they arrived from the Philippines on Thursday evening. He passed away a few hours later.

Both Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago have expressed their condolences to the family of Tajonera. They assured the family that the Philippine Government will extend any assistance they may require.

Tajonera’s death bring to two the number of fatalities in the November 16 explosion and fire that also left three other Filipinos seriously injured and one missing. Ellroy Corporal, 42, died in the incident while Jerome Malagapo, 28, has still not been found.

Ambassador Cuisia said the family members of the three injured Filipinos have also arrived in Baton Rouge and have been given access to the patients.

Tajonera’s family and those of the other victims are being assisted by Monika Limpo, an officer from the Office of American Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and representatives from D&R Resources and Grand Isle Shipyard Inc.

Ambassador Cuisia said he has also instructed Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro Jr. and Welfare Officer Saul de Vries to return to Louisiana to assist the families of the victims. The two are scheduled to arrive there on Saturday morning.

Consul General Herrera-Lim, at the same time, said three other Filipino workers who survived the incident are now back in Manila, after giving their accounts of the incident to federal authorities investigating the cause of the fire. He also said the remains of Corporal will be repatriated to the Philippines on Tuesday. ###