Dutch officials mum on crash survivor

2010-05-13 07:46

The sole survivor of a Libyan plane crash that killed 103 people

may be nine-year-old Ruben van Assouw from Tilburg in the southern Netherlands,

a local newspaper reported today.

The boy’s grandmother, An van de Sande, told the Brabants Dagblad

newspaper: “We received a telephone call from officials to say that the boy,

being treated in a Libyan hospital, mentioned the name Ruben.”

The foreign ministry confirmed that two presumed family members of

the injured child were on their way to Tripoli.

Ruben had been on safari in South Africa with his brother Enzo, 11,

mother Trudy, 41, and father Patrick, 40, said the newspaper.

Sixty-one Dutch citizens were believed killed when an Afriqiyah

Airways plane coming from Johannesburg disintegrated on landing around 6am at

Tripoli airport yesterday.

Van de Sande said she and other family members had waited for news

at a Brussels air field the whole of yesterday “and so I haven’t yet seen the

television footage” of the bruised boy in his hospital bed.

Van de Sande said: “Other family members have seen it, but it is

difficult to be 100% sure that it is indeed Ruben. We don’t understand it. It’s

like we’re in a movie.”

Dutch officials said yesterday the child had undergone surgery for

broken bones and his condition was not life-threatening.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Francesco Mascini would not confirm

the survivor’s identity today “until the two presumed family members have seen

the child”.

Mascini said the two family members had left on a government plane

around 6am from the port city of Rotterdam and would make their way to the

hospital on arrival in Tripoli later this morning.

“Until the presumed family members have seen the child, we cannot

say anything about his identity with certainty.”

Also on board the plane were forensic experts and consular staff to

help identify the dead and provide support on the ground, said Mascini, as well

as experts from the transport ministry to “help determine the cause of the


Dutch tourism federation ANWB said yesterday that 61 Dutch

citizens, part of two separate tour groups on their way to Brussels and

Duesseldorf, Germany, died in the crash but this figure has not been officially


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