Crews continue search for missing oil worker

NEW ORLEANS — As crews searched Sunday for a worker still missing after an oil platform explosion and fire, doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.

Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors say.

The company that owned the platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico vowed Sunday to keep searching for a second worker still missing after a body was found in about 30 feet of water near the platform.


At the burn center of Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Wilberto Ilagan, 50, of the Philippines, told Dr. Jeffrey Littleton that he wanted to send a 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.’’

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Littleton said at a news conference Sunday that the other men’s names are being withheld and their conditions are more serious.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington has said all the workers are from the Philippines.

The body of the unidentified person was found Saturday night by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said. He said the Coast Guard, which has suspended its own search, would turn over the remains to local authorities.

John Hoffman, president and chief executive of Black Elk Energy, has said the body was found by a contract dive vessel. He wrote in an e-mail Sunday morning that a second dive vessel was brought in to speed up the search for the second missing worker.


The missing and wounded workers were employees of Grand Isle Shipyard, an oil field contractor, he said.

The Coast Guard suspended its search earlier Saturday after 32 hours spent covering 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Authorities have said the blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform.

Grand Isle Shipyard, however, said the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown.