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17/11/2012: US Coast Guard Calls Off Search for 2 Filipinos Missing in Oil Platform Fire off Louisiana Coast

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-180-2012
17 November 2012
Updated 2330H EST

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States Coast Guard has called off its search for two Filipinos who were reported missing following an explosion and a fire in their offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that also critically injured four other Filipinos, the Philippine Embassy said tonight.

In his report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said the two Filipino oil workers remain unaccounted for despite search and rescue efforts undertaken by the US Coast Guard in waters off the coast of Louisiana immediately after the incident on Friday morning until Saturday evening.

"We wish to thank the US Coast Guard for doing their best in looking for our two missing countrymen," Ambassador Cuisia said shortly after the operations were called off on Sunday morning in Manila.

Ambassador Cuisia said the four injured Filipinos are being treated for serious burns at the Regional Burn Center of the Baton Rouge General Hospital also in Louisiana where 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 the envoy said the Embassy could not immediately confirm whether they were among the nine workers that the US Coast Guard said were hurt in the incident.

Reports that reached the Embassy a few hours after the incident initially placed the number of injured Filipinos at 13 with two unaccounted for in the incident. According to the latest reports, the victims were among the nine Filipinos and five non-Filipinos working on the oil production platform located 25 miles off Grand Isle, Louisiana, when the fire broke out.

Ambassador Cuisia said Welfare Officer Saul de Vries will be proceeding to Baton Rouge to check on the condition of the injured Filipino oil workers and see what assistance the Philippine Government could extend to them or their families in the Philippines.

According to information reaching the Embassy, 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 who were hired in the Philippines, through  D&R Resources and its partner agency in Manila, D&R Offshore Crewing Services Resources, 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 continues to monitor the situation. He said Deputy Consul General Orontes Castro is also in touch with Grand Isle and with Black Elk Energy. ###