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3rd Filipino fatality in oil rig accident identified

MANILA, Philippines - A third Filipino fatality in the November 16 explosion on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico has been confirmed by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, the diplomatic post announced Wednesday, November 28.

The victim was identified as Jerome Malagapo, 28, a native of Danao City, Cebu.

Malagapo's remains were identified by the Coroner's Office of La Fourche Paris, Louisiana. His immediate family in Cebu has been informed by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr.

Cuisia said they knew of this development as early as Monday, November 26, but chose to announce publicly after the family was notified.

"We are deeply saddened to learn that we lost our kababayan, Jerome Malagapo… We console ourselves with the thought that Jerome has been found and will be reunited with his loved ones," Cuisia was quoted in a press release from the Embassy.

The victim's father also works in an offshore oil rig in Louisiana, the Embassy said. Malagapo was identified through his dental records, they added.

His body was recovered 3 days after welder Avelino Tajonera succumbed to complications brought by burn injuries he sustained during the accident. Elroy Corporal was the first Filipino victim identified after the accident.

Three other Filipino victims are recovering from injuries caused by the accident.

On the other hand, the Philippine government will continue to assist the families of the survivors of the blast, who arrived back in the Philippines last week, according to Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago.

Philippine diplomats are also coordinating with the hospitals, the employer D&R Resources, and contractor Grand Isle Shipyard Inc, to help the victims.

US authorities earlier said there were 22 people on board when the blast rocked the rig operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy.

Nine of the 22 are Filipino workers, according to Cuisia, who added the Filipino embassy staff had yet to get in touch with the 3 others who he said were not among those reported seriously hurt.

The Filipino victims of the blast are believed to be among an estimated 162 welders, fitters, scaffolders and riggers who were hired in the Philippines to work in offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. - Rappler.com, with the Agence France-Presse