NEW ORLEANS—Authorities said that divers hired by the owner of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that caught fire on Friday have recovered a body near the site but did not say if it belonged to one of two missing Filipino workers.
Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said the unidentified person was found Saturday evening by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy who were inspecting the platform. Vega said the Coast Guard was turning over the remains to local authorities.
The news came shortly after the Coast Guard suspended a 32-hour-long search for two workers missing after the fire erupted. The search covered a 1,400-square-foot area. Vega said the Coast Guard could resume the search if there is credible evidence that one of the workers survived.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. expressed gratitude for the search and rescue efforts conducted by the US Coast Guard.
“We wish to thank the US Coast Guard for doing their best in looking for our two missing countrymen,” Cuisia said shortly after the operations were called off on Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila).
Cuisia said that two Filipino oil workers remained missing after the blaze that injured nine other compatriots, four of them critically. The statement was made before the Coast Guard announced a body has been recovered near the site.
Four Filipino workers who were severely burned remained at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana on Saturday night, he said.
Cuisia said “two are listed in critical condition and the other two in serious condition.”
Three other Filipinos were working on the oil platform at the time of the incident but Cuisia said the embassy could not immediately confirm whether they were among the nine Filipino workers that the US Coast Guard said were hurt in the incident.
Welfare Officer Saul de Vries will visit the hospital to check on the condition of the injured Filipinos and find out “what assistance the Philippine government could extend to them or their families in the Philippines,” said Cuisia.
Information reaching the embassy indicated 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 hired in the Philippines, through Grand Isle’s US recruitment agency, D&R Resources and its Manila-based counterpart, Industrial Personnel and Management Services, 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 continued to monitor the situation. He said Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro was also in touch with Grand Isle and with Black Elk Energy. With a report from Associated Press