Black Elk death toll rises

November 29, 2012

Black Elk Energy production platform

Body indentified as missing Grand Isle worker

The death toll from Black Elk Energy's 16 November platform fire has risen to three as the body of the sole missing worker has been recovered off Grand Isle, Louisiana.

The body of Jerome Malagapo was recovered 20 miles from the Black Elk platform on Monday and later identified through dental records. Malagapo is survived by his wife Joanne and his father Francisco, also an offshore oil worker. Originally from Danao City, Cebu, Philippines, the 28-year-old worked as a fitter for Grand Isle Shipyard.

"We are deeply saddened to learn that we lost our kababayan (countryman), Jerome Malagapo,"said the Philippines' American Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia.

Three workers, also from the Philippines, remain hospitalized in Baton Rouge. Their conditions remain unchanged.

Previously, the body of Ellroy Corporal, 42, was recovered near the accident site on 17 November. A second worker, 49-year-old welder Avelino Tajonera passed away due to complications from major burn injuries on 23 November.

Grand Isle Shipyard, the employer of the injured Filipino workers, had been contracted for maintenance work on the shallow water production platform owned and operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy.

The Philippine Consulate said Grand Isle Shipyard CEO Mark Pregeant disputed Black Elk Energy's claim that hot work onboard the platform caused the accident during a eulogy for Corporal and Tajonera.

‘Those gentlemen did not cut the wrong line,' Pregeant said in statement released by the consulate. ‘These gentlemen did not cut that piece of pipe with a torch.'

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Black Elk Energy's production platform, which was not in operation at the time of the incident, is located approximately 18 miles southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, in West Delta Block 32.



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