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29 October 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The body of a Filipino welder who has been the subject of a massive search and rescue operation after falling off an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday was recovered this morning, the Philippine Embassy said.

In a statement, the Embassy said the body of Peter Jorge E. Voces, 38, was recovered by divers from the United States Coast Guard at the accident site at around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

“It is with deep sadness that we learn about the loss of our kababayan,” said Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. who only hours earlier had expressed hope that Voces would be recovered alive. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones in the Philippines.”

In Chicago, Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim also extended his condolences to Voces’s family and assured them that the Philippine Consulate General there will facilitate the repatriation of his remains and will make the necessary representations with his employer to secure his benefits.

“We will do everything possible to bring Mr. Voces home at the soonest possible time,” Consul General Herrera-Lim said.

Both Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General Herrera-Lim also expressed the appreciation of the Philippine Government to the US Coast Guard Sector New Orleans for spearheading the search and rescue effort for Voces.

Two cutters, two helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft and six civilian offshore supply vessels were involved in the search for Voces that was mounted immediately after he was reported to have gone overboard on Sunday evening.

An official of Houston-based Talos Energy said Voces was a member of a derrick barge crew that was contracted by its subsidiary, Energy Resource Technology, to dismantle one of its platforms at Vermillion Block 200, located some 55 miles south of Freshwater Bayou in Louisiana.

Talos Energy representative David Blackmon said Voces was apparently knocked off the platform by an empty storage tank that fell with him into the waters around 100 feet deep at around 7:30 p.m.

Consul Romulo Israel Jr. said he was informed by the Coast Guard that their divers found Voces’s body pinned in the wreckage in waters just below the platform.

He said Mr. Voces’s remains have been brought ashore and turned over to his employer, Offshore Specialty Fabricator LLC, based in Houma, Louisiana.

Embassy Welfare Officer Saul de Vries said Voces was a registered overseas worker who was deployed as a welder/fitter by 88 Aces Maritime Services, a licensed manning company based in Manila.

Voces’s death brings to four the number of Filipinos who died while working in offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.  Three Filipinos died and three others were seriously injured in the 16 November 2012 explosion at the oil platform they were working on some 154 miles from Sunday’s accident site. ###