Boy survivor of Libya Air crash confused, says doctor

2010-05-13 11:48

A Dutch boy who miraculously survived a Libyan plane crash that

killed 103 people including his parents is confused but stable, a doctor said

today, as relatives arrived in Tripoli to comfort him.

The boy, identified only as “Ruben” by the Dutch foreign ministry

but more fully named by the Dutch media as nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw, has

come round after surgery in a Tripoli hospital to his smashed legs, the doctor

treating said.

“He woke up (late Wednesday night) and is in good condition,” the

doctor said, while stressing that the boy was confused and “still is not

reacting well to his surroundings.”

“The child underwent several rounds of surgery to his legs. He had

simple fractures and double fractures,” the doctor said on Libyan state

television, which also showed pictures of the boy’s legs in casts.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said an uncle and an aunt

arrived in Tripoli today on a Netherlands government plane and were taken to the

hospital “to make sure that Ruben will see family faces next to his bed.”

The boy would be flown back home “as soon as his medical condition

allows,” the spokesman said.

Ministry spokesman Christoph Prommersberger told AFP that the boy

was doing “reasonably well.”

“A colleague from the embassy (in Tripoli) was able to speak with

him. He told her he was Ruben, nine years old, from the city of Tilburg,”

Prommersberger said.

“He is not in a critical condition.”

Dutch newspaper Babants Dagblad said the boy was likely

nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw from Tilburg in the southern Netherlands who had

been on safari in South Africa with his mother Trudy, 41, father Patrick, 40,

and his brother Enzo, 11.

Also on board the Dutch government plane to Tripoli were forensic

experts, consular staff and transport ministry staff, the foreign ministry


Libya’s Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zidan said a total of 103

people – 92 passengers of nine nationalities and an 11-strong Libyan crew – died

when an Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 coming from Johannesburg disintegrated on

landing at Tripoli airport.

Of these, 61 were believed to be Dutch passengers returning from a

package holiday in South Africa to the Netherlands, which ordered flags on

government buildings flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.

Johannesburg private Talk Radio 702 reported today that at least 10

South Africans were among those who died.

Family members from the Netherlands have also been flown in to

Libya courtesy of Afriqiyah to identify the bodies and prepare their

repatriation, a Dutch diplomat said.

Libya’s transport minister said the rest of the dead included two

Germans as well as passengers from Britain, France, Finland, the Philippines,

South Africa and Zimbabwe, although he could not give a breakdown of their


With the plane’s black boxes recovered, investigators from

manufacturers Airbus and France where the plane was built have also flown to

join the inquiry led by Libya, which has ruled out terrorism as the cause of

yesterday’s crash.

Witnesses spoke of the aircraft inexplicably breaking up as it came

in to land in clear weather.

“It is too soon to know the causes of the accident,” Sabri Shadi,

the chairman of the board of Afriqiyah Airways, said about the probe into the


“Several committees have been set up to investigate and we need

some time before we can draw any conclusions,” he said.

“A preliminary report should be published in the next few days but

definitive results will not be known for several days, even weeks,” the chairman


Yesterday’s crash was the deadliest air accident in Libya since

December 22 1992 when a Libyan Arab Airlines plane crashed near Tripoli airport

killing 157 people. – Sapa-AFP

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