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Filipino confirmed dead, another missing in US oil rig fire—officials

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This aerial photograph shows damage from an explosion and fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana on Friday. AP

MANILA, Philippines—The body recovered in the waters near an oil platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico belonged to one of two missing Filipino workers, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed Sunday.

“We regret to announce that the body that was recovered near the accident scene a few hours ago belongs to one of our two missing kababayans,” Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. said as he expressed his condolences to the family of the victim.

The remains of the Filipino were found Saturday night by divers hired by Black Elk Energy, US Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said. Vega said the Coast Guard would be turning over the remains to local authorities.

Houston-based Black Elk Energy is the owner of the oil platform.

Oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., employer of the two Filipinos, identified the recovered body as that of one of the two missing workers, Cuisia said. The embassy declined to release names and expressed its condolences to the family of the dead worker.

John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, said the body was found close to the leg of the platform, near where the explosion occurred, in about 30 feet of water.

According to WWL-TV in New Orleans, GIS CEO Mark Pregeant had released a statement that said that the company had notified the family of the victims. The statement, however, did not give their names.

The Coast Guard had suspended its own search earlier Saturday after 32 hours spent covering 1,400 square miles (3,626 square kilometers) near the oil platform, located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana.

“We saw no signs of life. We have suspended the search… pending further development,” Vega said.

Coast Guard ends search for 2 after oil rig fire

But Black Elk Energy has vowed to continue searching for a second missing Filipino worker.

“Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker,” Hoffman wrote in an e-mail. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”

Cuisia said, “We continue to hope and pray that our other kababayan (countryman) is still alive and would be recovered soon.”

At least nine Filipino workers were injured in the blaze and four of them remained at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana where they were being treated for serious burns, he said.

“Doctors there said two of the burn victims are in critical condition while the other two are in serious condition,” Cuisia said.

9 Filipinos injured, 2 missing in Gulf platform fire

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.

Grand Isle Shipyard employed 14 of the 22 workers on the platform at the time of the explosion, WWL-TV reported. A man who answered the phone at the company’s Galliano, Louisiana, office on Saturday said no one was available to comment.

Philippine Embassy 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.

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.

US authorities have said the blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform.

Pregeant’s statement, however, said the cause of the fire and explosion was unknown and that “initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate.”

Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined in cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers’ claims are false and should be dismissed.

Meanwhile, company officials said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, a relief for Gulf Coast residents still weary two years after the BP oil spill illustrated the risk that offshore drilling poses to the region’s ecosystem and economy.

Black Elk released a statement saying that the platform hasn’t been operating since August.

Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company. The company’s website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms. With a report from Associated Press in New Orleans

Originally posted: 9:26 pm | Sunday, November 18th, 2012


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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z2NZIEOL3STW673SWNOGWBQHHA wei lee

    My sympathy to the family. I just hope their employers provided them with the proper insurance. To those still recovering from their burns, hold on, God is with you and will protect you always. 

  • pfc_kulapu

    magagalit ang BAYAD MUNA nito…
    at sisigaw sila ng “STOP LABOR EXPORT POLICY”..

  • AFPako

    Ang galing ng puti, nagha- hire lang ng kayumangmangs to do their dirty work.  At ang problema nito mga kayumangmangs mahilig gumamit ng shortcuts. They used hot cutter to cut a 3 inch pipe with high pressure oil and gas flowing. Instead of using cold cutter to prevent sparks, pinag iba nila ang dapat gagawin. Ayan, umulbo ang pweeet nila.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AFDQQH2M3OD6ZGBJNJ34UZHIV4 Enrico

      Siguro naman may risk assessment at hot work permit.

    • tabingbakod

      Di ka ba marunong magbasa? sinabi ng unverifed pa ang cause. Hindi mo alam ang tunay na nangyari at sitwasyon pero hinusgahan mo na yung mga kababayan natin.

      Racist ka kasi sarili mong lahi. Wala kang respeto sa mga marangal na Pilipino na nagtratrabaho at sa mga pamilya nila.

      Kung ikaw mismo ay tanga at pabaya sa kapakanan mo at at mga taong nakapaligid sa iyo. Wag mong idamay kami. Hindi kami katulad mo.

      Kesa magalit ka sa kompanya at humingi ka sustento para sa binubuhay nilang pamilya, pinagtatawanan mo pa sila.

      • AFPako

        Alam na natin itong mga kayumangmangs ay mahilig sa shortcuts sa trabaho. Mata mata ang estilo. Ayan, umulbo ang husto. If you do not follow proper procedures, it can end up deadly. I bet ya there will be cover up s on this one. Basta lahat kayumangmang ang crew pati ang senior supervisor nila, mahilig talaga sa pagbabaya para pabilisan. They must have done this before and most of the time was okey. But this time it was disastrous . The law of badluck . If things can go wrong , it will go wrong.

    • fengsun811

      You shouldn’t blamed Filipinos to be there. It is their fate. Why in China their is no such things happened? You’re so bias in any angle against Filipinos. Are U Filipino? If you’re not it is obvious.

    • kalikasanipagtanggol

       Pinabayaan ka na naman ng caregiver mo at hindi napainom ng gamot sa oras……

  • jadejones2012

    Sayang.

    Meron pa naman sana tayong presidente na hit-hit ng hit-hit ng nicotine.

    Gusto niyang masunog ang kanyang baga.

    Bakit hindi na lang siya ang namatay?

    • doncleo

       mas may pakinabang naman siguro ang presidente natin kaysa sayo..baka nga isa kang tamad na oalamunin e..

  • joerizal

    At least di sila namatay dahil sa pyramid scam.

  • jadejones2012

    What a waste.

    These men are very productive pa naman.

    Sana ang tamad na presidente na lang  ang kinuha.

    • doncleo

       pati ba trahedya na ikinamatay ng ibang kababayan natin hahaluan mo pa ng pulitika? napaka-insensitive mo naman..

    • http://twitter.com/MarLouWang Marlou Wang

       ikaw yata ang saksakan ng tamad, e! wala kang ginawa kundi mag-comment ng walang katuturan, tamad ka!

  • dprotector

    Ever wonder why with big Americans unemployed, this employers still hired people from far away country like the Philippines. The reason maybe at the hand of their former employees who complain of cramped living quarters and long working hours which cannot be tolerated by their citizens. This could be reason for the accident, maybe fatigue and maybe also substandard working conditions and equipment which could probably be made in communist China because the employers are saving money. This is unthinkable in country like the US but no country is perfect.

    • AFPako

      Hahaha, mukhang convenient e blame ang China. Nakakahiya ka, patay ang mga unggok kasi shortcut ang mga estilo mga ito . Nagmamadali para mag iinuman ang mga gunggung.  Ayan, umulbo ang mga pweeets nila. Magdasal na lang kayo, Uncle Sam cannot save your dirty azzes. Kahit ang galing ng US COast Guard, if you do shortcuts and not following proper safety procedures, you will reap the whirlwind..

    • charlie_oscar

      Americans would not be hired by this company because US laws require overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week and also medical/healthcare.  The oil companies want to go cheap so they use off-shore company to provide workers at 60% less x hourly rate! Then the workers are “sub-contracted” to the oil rig.  The Filipino is treated like a slave and working 70 hours per week – NO overtime and no medical insurance…and the American worker is also the loser because they cannot get these jobs anyway. Oil Company is the laughing cow on this. I guarantee many Americans would work on this rig because you get $50 per hour (starting salary) and work 2 weeks straight and then 2 weeks off rotations! Food is very good but same as living on a ship.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FQ3IVBIODEVLWKYOKIST7M7CLA Joefrey

    It’s the failure of the safety officer of not doing their part as safety officer. Please, hwag nyong iblame ang nangyari s mga filipino workers, dahil hindi sila mga amateur ng basta lang pinadala   doon upang magtrabaho, tiyak na may sapat silang kaalaman  sa ganoon klase trabaho. Ang mga nagtratrabaho sa mga oil and gas ay hindi basta basta trabahahador ng isang construction company.Hindi sila tatawagin specialist sa kanilang field of work kung wala silang sapat na kaalaman sa ganoong klase trabaho. Kung wala kyong kaalaman sa oil and gas field tumahimik na kyo at kayo ang mga gunggong. Namatayan na nga binababoy nyo pa.



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