By The Associated Press
November 25, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — One of the men critically burned in an offshore oil platform fire died in a Baton Rouge hospital, the Philippine ambassador said Friday.
Avelino Tajonera, 49, a welder from Dinalupihan, Bataan, died Friday morning, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said in a statement posted on the embassy’s website.
“The Filipino nation joins his family in grieving over their loss,” he said.
Tajonera’s wife and three children were able to see him Thursday evening when they arrived in Baton Rouge; he died early Friday, a few hours later, Cuisia said.
The Nov. 16 explosion and fire also killed Ellroy Corporal, 42, whose body was found in the waters near the platform. The search for Jerome Malagapo, 28, was called off this week.
Cuisia said he was told of Tajonera’s death and his family’s visit by Randolf Malagapo, executive manager of D&R Resources, which hired him and the other injured Filipinos to work in Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry.
Three other men remain hospitalized. Their families are in Baton Rouge, Cuisia said. The only one whose name has been released is Wilberto Ilagan, 50, who improved to good condition earlier this week.
Nicole Kleinpeter, a spokeswoman for Baton Rouge General Medical Center, in an email Friday evening, said: “Baton Rouge General and its Regional Burn Center have been caring for four patients injured in the Gulf explosion that occurred last Friday, Nov. 16.
“With heavy hearts, the hospital announced today the passing of Mr. Avelino Tajonera due to complications from major burn injuries. Tajonera had been in critical condition since Friday.”
“Our hearts remain with the Tajonera family, and all the loved ones and fellow countrymen of this brave man,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Floyd Roberts said. “We are all deeply saddened by this loss.”
Two patients are in critical condition; Ilagan remains in serious but stable condition.
The treatment for major burns extends for a critical time period following the injury, and is not unexpected to follow a longer course, with the clinical focus surrounding maintaining the airways, IV fluid hydration, nutritional support and local wound care. Other critical services include occupational and physical therapy, pastoral care and surgical care.
All of the men were working for Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., which had a contract with Black Elk Energy to refurbish the platform.
The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the fire.
The embassy quoted Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim as saying three Filipino workers who survived the fire were back in Manila after giving statements to federal investigators.
Corporal’s body will be returned to the Philippines on Tuesday, Herrera-Lim said.