MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Embassy in Washington has confirmed reports that the body recovered on Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila) near the oil rig that was hit by fire off the coast of Louisiana belongs to one of two Filipino workers missing.
"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 L. Cuisia Jr. said in a statement.
Cuisia said the body of the Filipino was identified by Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., the employer of the victim, shortly after the body was brought to shore. The Philippine Embassy, however, did not reveal the name of the victim.
The victim was identified after the US Coast Guard informed the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago that the divers hired by the owner of the oil platform recovered a body in the waters near the site a few hours after the search for the missing workers was called off.
Extending his condolences to the family of the victim, Cuisia said: "We continue to hope and pray that our other kababayan is still alive and would be recovered soon."
Meanwhile, Cuisia said four other Filipinos were badly injured in the incident and are currently being treated at the Regional Burn Center of the Baton Rouge General Hospital also in Louisiana.
Cuisia said there were three other Filipinos working on the oil rig during the accident, but they could not confirm whether they were among the nine Filipino workers that the US Coast Guard said were hurt in the incident.
There were also other non-Filipinos working at the oil platform.
Last Friday, a fire erupted on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.
It cannot be confirmed what actually caused the fire but based on a report Cuisia shared with ABS-CBN News, the Filipino workers were "lighting a torch," a technical term which Cuisia didn’t elaborate, pending the continuing investigation.
The oil production platform is owned by Black Elk Energy, a Houston-based independent oil and gas company.
Cuisia said US welfare officer Saul de Vries will be proceeding to Baton Rouge General Hospital to check on the condition of the injured Filipino workers and see what assistance the Philippine Government could extend to them or their families in the Philippines. – with a report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News