Filipino Oil Rig Worker Missing; Search Continues At Gulf Of Mexico

NEW YORK, NY— (UPDATE) The body of Peter Jorge E. Voces, 38, a Filipino welder who has been the subject of a massive search and rescue operation was recovered by divers from the U.S. Coat Guard at the accident site at around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Philippine Embassy said.

Consul Romulo Israel Jr. said he was informed by the Coast Guard that their divers found Voces’s body pinned in the wreckage in waters just below the platform.

He said Mr. Voces’s remains have been brought ashore and turned over to his employer, Offshore Specialty Fabricator LLC, based in Houma, Louisiana.

“It is with deep sadness that we learn about the loss of our kababayan,” said Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. who only hours earlier had expressed hope that Voces would be recovered alive. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones in the Philippines.”

In Chicago, Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim also extended his condolences to Voces’s family and assured them that the Philippine Consulate General there will facilitate the repatriation of his remains and will make the necessary representations with his employer to secure his benefits. 

“We will do everything possible to bring Mr. Voces home at the soonest possible time,” Consul General Herrera-Lim said.

Both Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General Herrera-Lim also expressed the appreciation of the Philippine Government to the US Coast Guard Sector New Orleans for spearheading the search and rescue effort for Voces.

An official of Houston-based Talos Energy said Voces was a member of a derrick barge crew that was contracted by its subsidiary, Energy Resource Technology, to dismantle one of its platforms at Vermillion Block 200, located some 55 miles south of Freshwater Bayou in Louisiana.

Talos Energy representative David Blackmon said Voces was apparently knocked off the platform by an empty storage tank that fell with him into the waters around 100 feet deep at around 7:30 p.m.

Embassy Welfare Officer Saul de Vries said Voces was a registered overseas worker who was deployed as a welder/fitter by 88 Aces Maritime Services, a licensed manning company based in Manila.

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CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) –Another Filipino worker at the Gulf of Mexico was reported missing after falling off an oil platform Sunday (Oct. 27), according to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The incident came nearly one year after three other Filipino oil rig workers died in a violent explosion on the oil platform while three others were seriously injured.

Quoting the U.S. Coast Guard, the Embassy said search is going on for the unidentified 38-year-old worker. Two cutters, two helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft and six civilian offshore supply vessels are deployed for the search.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said, “We have been assured by the U.S. Coast Guard that they are searching aggressively for our missing kababayan (country mate). We hope and pray that they will find him tomorrow.”

The identity of the missing Filipino is being withheld pending notification of relatives. He is a registered overseas worker hired by Offshore Specialty Fabricators based in Houma, Louisiana.

Lt. Steve Arguelles of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector in New Orleans said the missing Filipino accidentally fell into the Gulf of Mexico while working at the oil platform at around 7 p.m.

The accident took place at Vermillion Block 200, some 55 miles south of Freshwater Bayou between Lake Charles and Baton Rouge and is 54 miles from last year’s accident site.

TWO CASES CONSOLIDATED

Meanwhile, Judge Susie Morgan of the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans had ordered the transfer of the case filed by Mary Jean Corporal on behalf of Ellroy Corporal to Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown, who is handling the case filed by Edna Tajonera on behalf of Avelino Tajonera, also before the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Louisiana.

Ellroy Corporal and Avelino Tajonera were two of the fatalities, who died in the November  16, 2012 explosion on the Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC West Delta 32 Block platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The third fatality, Jerome Malagapo, has yet to file a civil suit against Black Elk Energy.

Corporal’s body was recovered from the sea floor underneath the platform while Malagapo’s body was recovered 12 days later and identified thru dental records. Tajonera was evacuated to a hospital in New Orleans, where he died of severe burns.

Tajonera, 49, was a welder from Bataan while Corporal, 42, was a rigger from Iligan City.  Malagapo, 28, was a pipefitter from Danao City, all in the Philippines.

Seriously burned were Renato Dominguez, 52, Wilfredo Ilagan, 50, and a third Filipino, whose name remains unidentified upon request of the relatives.

In her complaint before Judge Brown, Tajonera’s widow, Edna Tajonera said, her husband suffered burns and injuries while working on the platform before he died.

She charged Black Elk Energy with violation of 43 U.S.C., the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act under the jurisdiction of Louisiana; negligence, wrongful death, strict liability, gross negligence, actual, exemplary, and punitive damages.

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