published Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Body identified as missing oil platform worker

In this image released by a oil field worker and obtained by the Associated Press, a fire burns on a Gulf oil platform Nov. 16, 2012, after an explosion on the rig, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.
In this image released by a oil field worker and obtained by the Associated Press, a fire burns on a Gulf oil platform Nov. 16, 2012, after an explosion on the rig, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

NEW ORLEANS — A body found in the Gulf of Mexico near Grand Isle has been identified as a Filipino worker missing since a deadly fire broke out on an oil platform earlier this month, a coroner said Wednesday.

Lafourche Parish Coroner Dr. John King said he identified the body of Jerome Malagapo, 28, using dental records, but further investigation is needed to determine what killed him. Malagapo’s is the third confirmed death from the fire that broke out Nov. 16 on the platform, about 20 miles south of Grand Isle.

“We console ourselves with the thought that Jerome has been found and will be reunited with his loved ones,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia said in a statement from the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

Two others were also killed: Ellroy Corporal, whose body was found in the Gulf near the platform the day after the fire, and Avelino Tajonera, who was critically burned and died at a hospital on Nov. 23.

Two workers remained in critical condition Wednesday at the Regional Burn Unit of Baton Rouge General Hospital, while the condition of another, Wilberto Ilagan, a 50-year-old welder from Batangas, continued to improve, the Embassy said.

All of the men were working for Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., which was under contract with Texas-based Black Elk Energy, to refurbish the platform, which operated in about 50 feet of water about 20 miles south of Grand Isle.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the cause of the fire. It did not result in a continuous leak of oil.

Federal regulators told Black Elk last week that it needs to improve safety at its offshore operations, saying the company has been cited numerous times for incidents in which it failed to comply with regulations.

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