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Filipino oil rig worker still missing; Cuisia visits injured


04:10 AM November 21st, 2012

November 21st, 2012 04:10 AM

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

A Filipino worker remained missing after the explosion and fire on an oil platform he and 21 others were working on in the Gulf of Mexico last Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday. One Filipino was killed in the incident.

Divers hired by the rig owner, Houston-based Black Elk Energy, recovered the remains of Elroy Corporal, 42, on Saturday and were still looking for the missing Filipino, according to Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. who visited four of the injured Filipinos at Baton Rouge General Hospital in Louisiana.

“We know it has been more than 48 hours but we Filipinos believe in miracles, and we continue to pray that our (countryman) will be found alive,” said Cuisia in a statement released by the DFA.

Two of the injured Filipinos sustained severe burns and were in critical condition while another was in serious condition at the hospital, Cuisia said.

A fourth Filipino, Wilberto Ilagan, was conscious and in fair condition, the envoy added.

US authorities said there were 22 people on the rig when the blast occurred.

Nine of the 22 were Filipinos, according to Cuisia, who added the embassy staff had yet to get in touch with the three others who were not among those seriously hurt and were not hospitalized.

The US Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing man, identified as Jerome Malagapo, 28, of Danao, Cebu, on Saturday.

At the hospital, the least seriously injured Ilagan told his doctors to ask Filipinos to pray for him and his three colleagues.

From the doctors, Cuisia relayed Ilagan’s appeal: “Tell my countrymen to pray for us and our quick recovery… and that our caregivers are always with us, and they are very kind to us.”

Cuisia visited Ilagan, 50, who suffered burns on 35 percent of his body. Ilagan was in a wheelchair and was assisted by a Filipino nurse, the embassy said.

“The condition of the three Filipino workers who suffered the most serious burns remains guarded while the fourth (Ilagan) continues to improve,” Cuisia said. Reports from Tarra Quismundo, Tina G. Santos and AFP

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