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Search on for Cebuano in Gulf oil rig accident

Three days after the oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico in the US, a search and rescue operation continues for missing Cebuano worker Jerome Malagapo.

A statement from the DnR Offshore Crewing Services said Malagapo was one of six Filipino workers in the offshore oil platform that caught fire last Nov. 18.

Another Filipino, Ellroy Corporal of Iligan City in Lanao del Norte was found dead. Corporal’s body is now in New Orleans.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia said three days after the incident, search efforts for the other missing Filipino contract worker continue.

“We know that it has been more than 48 hours but we Filipinos always believe in miracles and we continue to pray that our other kababayan will be found alive,” Cuisia said.

Cuisia earlier asked  US authorities to resume their search efforts for the missing Filipino worker after the US Coast Guard called it off last Saturday evening following a 32-hour operation.

He said the Pentagon informed the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attaché, under Brig. Gen. Cesar Yano, the US Coast Guard still had assets that were monitoring the situation in the area.

Cuisia said yesterday that Black Elk Energy dispatched two vessels and several divers to continue with their own search efforts.

In critical condition

In his earlier statements, Cuisia said Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, Welfare Officer Saul de Vries and Asst. Labor Officer Oliver Flores of the embassy in Washington flew into New Orleans on Sunday afternoon (Monday morning in Manila) to attend to the remains of the lone Filipino fatality and to monitor the search for a missing worker.

The officials also met with doctors of Baton Rouge General Hospital, where four Filipino workers were being treated for serious burns sustained during the incident.

Cuisia said Dr. Flip Roberts, Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Jeffrey Littleton, Burn Surgeon and Chair of the Department of Surgery, informed the officials that two of four Filipinos remained in critical condition at the hospital’s Regional Burn Unit while one was in serious condition.

The hospital said the four patients were considered to have major burns and remained in the critical window of time that follows major burn injuries and were continuing on normal courses of treatment.

Meanwhile, 50-year-old Wilberto Ilagan, the fourth Filipino worker being treated at the hospital, had been moved out of the serious list and is now in “fair condition.”

“To my relatives, to my family, and to my country, I am alive and in good health. I am burned, but my heart and lungs are healthy,” the embassy quoted Ilagan as saying. Ilagan reportedly conveyed his message to Dr. Littleton.

DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, in a press briefing at the DFA main office in Pasay, said that the families of those who were affected had been informed and would be provided with adequate assistance.

In an e-mail statement, Jesse Collera, human resources manager and head of corporate communications of DnR Offshore and Crewing Services, Inc., the local manning agency of Grand Isle Shipyard, said the company was in touch with the families.

“We have assured the relatives that the necessary compensation and benefits for the sustained injuries will be given (including counseling),” Collera said.

“The company is presently assisting them in securing the necessary travel documents including visas in order to bring them immediately to the site,” he added. Inquirer with reports from BenCyrus G. Ellorin

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Tags: Accidents , Gulf oil rig

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