Covering Louisiana

Nov 27, 2012 6:56 PM by AP

Officials trying to identify body pulled from Gulf

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The coroner's office is trying to determine whether the decomposed body of a man recovered from the Gulf of Mexico is a worker missing since a fire erupted on an offshore oil platform on Nov. 16.

The Coast Guard says the body was spotted Monday by the crew of a supply vessel about 2.5 miles off Grand Isle.

Jefferson Parish coroner's investigator Tommy Evans said the body remained unidentified after an autopsy Tuesday. Evans said his office planned to use dental records and possibly DNA tests to determine whether the body is of missing worker Jerome Malagapo.

The fire killed two other workers. Ellroy Corporal's body was found in the Gulf near the platform. Avelino Tajonera was critically burned and died at a Baton Rouge hospital on Nov. 23.

All of the men were working for Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., which was under contract with Texas-based Black Elk Energy to refurbish the platform.

The platform had been shut down for maintenance work when the fire broke out. It is in about 50 feet of water about 20 miles south of Grand Isle.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the cause of the Black Elk Energy fire. The accident that set off the fire did not result in a continuous leak of oil.

Federal regulators told Black Elk last week that it needs to improve safety at its offshore operations, saying the company has been cited numerous times for incidents in which it failed to comply with regulations.

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