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Philippines mourns dead, injured workers in Louisiana oil platform blast

Gerald Herbert / AP file

Damage from an explosion on an oil rig is seen in the Gulf of Mexico, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La., on Nov. 16.

The Philippine Embassy said Monday that Philippine officials have been sent to Louisiana to help Filipino workers who were wounded in an explosion and fire last week at an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The body of one of two missing Filipino workers was found Saturday and turned over to the Jefferson Parish coroner. He was identified on Monday as Ellroy Corporal, 42. The second man, identified as Jerome Malagapo, remains missing. Four people remain hospitalized.

The U.S. Coast Guard has called off its search for Malagapo, but Black Elk Energy, the Houston-based owner of the ill-fated platform, continued looking on its own.

“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 (countryman) will be found alive,” Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. in Washington said on Sunday in a statement.

Cuisia said the remains of Corporal will be sent back to the Philippines after an autopsy. The envoy said he personally contacted Corporal’s widow, Mary Jean, in Iligan City, Philippines, to extend his sympathy and to offer assistance for her and her two children.

The embassy said Philippine consular officials are in Baton Rouge, La., to attend to Corporal’s remains and to look into how the Philippine government could assist the four Filipinos who were seriously burned in the accident.

Body found at scene of oil platform explosion in Gulf of Mexico

Two of the four remain in critical condition at Baton Rouge General Hospital’s burn unit while another is in serious condition, embassy officials said. The fourth, identified as Wilberto Ilagan, is conscious and in fair condition, according to Deputy Consul General Castro.

Ilagan, who suffered burns in 35 percent of his body, was earlier reported to have asked his doctors to inform his family in the Philippines that he is alive and well after he was earlier erroneously reported to have succumbed to injuries.

“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,” the 50-year-old Ilagan said in the message that was conveyed on his behalf by his doctors.

Searchers in the Gulf of Mexico say they've found the body of one of the two people who went missing after an oil platform explosion on Friday. NBC's Lester Holt reports. 

The missing and injured men were guest workers with Grand Isle Shipyard, an oilfield contracting company out of Galliano, La..

They were among nearly two dozen workers on the oil platform at the time of the explosion and fire.

Grand Isle Shipyard CEO Mark Pregeant said the cause of the explosion and fire isn’t known. He said 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."

The explosion is being investigated by the local, state and federal authorities. The fire was extinguished a few hours after the blast and Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski told reporters that the platform appeared to be structurally sound.

Black Elk said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, which hadn't been operating since August.

NBC News' James Eng and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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