The body of a Filipino man was found Saturday night in the Gulf of Mexico waters near the Black Elk Energy oil rig platform that suffered from an explosion on Friday. The body was found in about 30 feet of water, near the leg of the platform where the explosion occurred.
The Philippine Embassy identified the body as 42-year-old Elroy Corporal. The man's remains are now in New Orleans, ready for repatriation to the Philippines. The ambassador said that the embassy has not given up hope that the other Filipino worker who remains missing, three days after the explosion, will be found.
"We know that it has been more than 48 hours but we Filipinos always believe in miracles and we continue to pray that our other kababayan (compatriot) will be found alive," the ambassador said.
According to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, all of the oil rig's workers were from the Philippines.
The president and CEO of Black Elk Energy said, "The workers impacted by this accident continue to be our primary focus."
The cause of the explosion was originally reported as follows: one of the contractors mistakenly grabbed a blow torch instead of a saw to cut a pipe line that had 28 gallons of oil inside. The blow torch ignited the oil resulting in the explosion. According to the Grand Isle Shipyard CEO, however, this report was completely false.
"Initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate," he said.
Grand Isle Shipyard employed 14 of the 22 workers on the platform at the time of the explosion.
Of the 11 individuals that were injured at the accident site, four were initially reported to have been in serious condition. Today, doctors report that one of the men has improved and is now in fair condition, two remain in critical condition and one in serious condition. These individuals continue to be cared for at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
One of the injured Filipino workers wanted to send this message, "To my relatives, to my family, and to my country, I am alive and in good health. I am burned, but my heart and lungs are healthy."
After the accident, two workers were reported missing. Now that one body has been discovered, the search continues for the other missing man. News sources report that three dive boats are working around the platform and that helicopter companies flying in the area have been asked to keep an eye out.
The CEO of Black Elk Energy said, "Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
A search and rescue dog will be brought to the platform today. The Coast Guard has suspended its own search after scanning 1,400 square miles near the platform.
The Coast Guard captain said, "We saw no signs of life. We have suspended the search and it is pending further development. If we receive any credible information that there are signs of life, we can resume the search at any time."
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued a subpoena to the owner of Black Elk Energy. The subpoena was intended to turn up information such as the company's safety and environmental management records as well as audits by the U.S. Department of Interior.
On Thursday, BP, the company responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, that killed 11 men and injured 17 others, pleaded guilty to charges related to the workers' deaths. The company agreed to pay $4.5 billion (the largest criminal fine in U.S. history) and also accepted a deal that will require them to put two monitors in charge of assessing their safety processes for the next five years.
An oil sheen that measures one-half mile by 200 yards was reported by the Coast Guard near the Black Elk Platform. Nonetheless, company officials say no oil is currently leaking from the platform. Gulf Coast residents welcomed this news, weary of the past two years following the BP oil spill disaster that affected their region's ecosystem and economy.
Defenders of Wildlife expresses their frustration with offshore drilling on their site, "The remnants of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling operation continue to spew at least 5,000 barrels (more than 200,000 gallons) of toxic oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day … with no end in sight. Experts say that the spill threatens at least 400 species, at least 19 vital wildlife refuges and communities dependent on the Gulf's multibillion dollar commercial and recreational fishing and tourist industries. President Obama has ordered a temporary moratorium on offshore drilling in new areas, but Big Oil and their political allies remain committed to industrializing our coasts… even at the cost of another ecological disaster."
Oceana expresses its concerns with the offshore oil industry in its report, "False Sense of Safety: Safety Measures Will not Make Offshore Drilling Safe."
After the tragedy that occurred on Friday the current count is one dead, four critically injured and one missing. Between 2001 and 2010, the US government reported 69 offshore deaths, 1,349 injuries and 858 fires and explosions on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
News coverage will continue to be reported by Arnold and Itkin. If you have been injured in an offshore accident or lost a loved one at sea, contact Arnold & Itkin today for the answers and legal representation you deserve! You can reach the firm by dialing this number (888) 393-8645.