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2nd person dies from Gulf platform blast

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:21 PM EST, Mon November 26, 2012
Commercial vessels extinguish a fire at an oil platform about 20 miles off Grand Isle, Louisiana, last week.
Commercial vessels extinguish a fire at an oil platform about 20 miles off Grand Isle, Louisiana, last week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Both dead workers were from the Philippines
  • Another Filipino is missing from the November 16 explosion
  • Dozens of Filipinos work at Gulf offshore platforms
  • Feds say the company, Black Elk, must "improve its safety performance"

(CNN) -- A second Filipino oil worker has died after last week's Gulf of Mexico oil platform blast, the Philippine government said Friday.

Avelino L. Tajonera died early Friday from injuries sustained in the November 16 explosion and fire on the Black Elk production platform off Louisiana, said Elmer Cato, consul at the Philippines Embassy in Washington.

The embassy said Philippines citizen Ellroy Corporal also died from the incident, and Jerome Malagapo, another worker from the Philippines, has not been found.

Several other workers were injured. Three Filipino workers remain in serious condition, the Philippines Embassy said. They suffered major burns and were being treated at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana.

The embassy estimates there are more than 160 welders, fitters, scaffolders and riggers who were hired in the Philippines to work at offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

After the blast, a U.S. Interior Department unit said the Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations "must take immediate steps to improve its safety performance on the U.S. outer continental shelf."

"Black Elk has repeatedly failed to operate in a manner that is consistent with federal regulations," said James A. Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

"BSEE has taken a number of enforcement actions, including issuing numerous Incidents of noncompliance, levying civil penalties and calling in the company's senior leadership to review their performance and the ramifications of failing to improve. This is an appropriate and necessary step as we continue to investigate the explosion and fire that resulted in the tragic loss of life and injuries last week."

The agency cited safety issues at the production platform where the explosion occurred, at facilities in the South Marsh Island area in the Gulf of Mexico, and in an October 2011 incident in which "Black Elk operations had used an acid-based chemical for treating a well that resulted in the hospitalization of six workers."

CNN's Vivian Kuo and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

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