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28/11/2012: Death Toll in Louisiana Oil Platform Fire Climbs to 3

28 NOVEMBER 2012

NEW ORLEANS—The death toll in the November 16 explosion and fire that hit an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico has climbed to three after authorities positively identified the body recovered on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) as that of a missing Filipino worker.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia said Jerome Malagapo became the third fatality in the accident that also claimed the lives of two other Filipinos and left three others seriously injured.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that we lost our kababayan, Jerome Malagapo,” Ambassador Cuisia said after he was informed by the Coroner's Office of La Fourche Parish that the remains belonged to the 28-year-old fitter from Danao City, Cebu.

“We console ourselves with the thought that Jerome has been found and will be reunited with his loved ones," Cuisia said after he received a call from Mark Goldman, Chief Investigator of the La Fourche Parish Coroner's Office, after attending the necrological services here for two of the workers who died in the incident.

The Ambassador then personally informed Malagapo's wife, Joanne, his father Francisco and other members of his family of the positive identification made based on dental records submitted on Tuesday night from the Philippines. The Malagapo family also attended the service.

Ambassador Cuisia said the Embassy was informed of the recovery of Malagapo's body as early as Monday but decided not to release any information until the remains were positively identified.

Ambassador Cuisia said Malagapo’s body was spotted near an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 miles from the ill-fated platform that he and eight other Filipinos were working on at the time of the incident.

According to the ambassador authorities were initially planning to take DNA samples from his father, also an offshore oil worker here, to identify Malagapo's body but Philippine consular officials recommended that dental records be submitted itself.

The recovery of Malagapo came three days after fellow worker Avelino Tajonera, a 49-year-old welder from Bataan, died as a result of complications from the serious burns he sustained in the incident that also claimed the life of another Filipino, Ellroy Corporal, a 42-year-old rigger from Iligan City.

Two other workers remain in critical condition at the Regional Burn Unit of the Baton Rouge General Hospital while the condition of another, Wilberto Ilagan, a 50-year-old welder from Batangas, continues to improve.

Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago said the government continues to assist the families of the workers who arrived from the Philippines last week.

He said Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro Jr. and Welfare Officer Saul de Vries are in constant coordination with hospital officials, the employer D&R Resources and the contractor Grand Isle Shipyard Inc.

Ambassador Cuisia flew to New Orleans on Tuesday to personally extend his condolences to the families of the three fatalities. In his meetings with then, the envoy assured them and the families of the three injured workers that they could count on government assistance.  ###