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Friday, May 14, 2010

Dutch boy who survived Libya crash is told family died

The Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of a plane crash in Libya that killed 103 people has been told that his parents and brother died in the crash.

Dutch officials said Ruben van Assouw would return to the Netherlands with his aunt and uncle on Saturday morning.

(Ruben van Assouw's legs were broken in several places)

The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330 crashed short of the runway at Tripoli airport on Wednesday.

The head Libyan investigator has said the pilot reported no problems during the plane's approach to land.

Ruben's aunt and uncle said their nine-year-old nephew was doing well under the circumstances.

"We have explained to Ruben exactly what happened," they said in a statement to journalists in Tripoli.

"He knows his parents and brother are dead. The whole family is going to bear the responsibility for Ruben's future," they said.

67 Dutch
13 South African
Four Belgian
Two Libyan passengers + 11 Libyan crew members
Two Austrian
One British
One German
One Zimbabwean
One French
One unknown nationality
Source: Afriqiyah Airways
Ruben had been on holiday in South Africa with his parents, Trudy and Patrick van Assouw, and his older brother, Enzo.

"The time ahead will be a difficult period for us. We hope that the media will respect our privacy," they added.

The family had been celebrating the parents' twelve-and-a-half year wedding anniversary, a Dutch custom.

Dutch foreign ministry officials said the boy, accompanied by his aunt and uncle and a doctor, would return to the Netherlands on Saturday morning.

Sedig Benzala, the head of the team caring for him, said Ruben was recovering well after a four-and-a-half hour operation to repair multiple fractures to his legs.

The Airbus 330 - carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew - crashed on Wednesday morning as it arrived from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The plane's flight recorders have been sent to Paris for examination.

Aftermath of the plane crash at Tripoli airport
It is not clear what caused the plane to crash just short of the runway as it approached Tripoli airport.
The head of the investigation team said the pilot had not reported any problems.

"Until the very last moment things were normal between the pilot and the control tower," Neji Dhaou told AFP news agency.

Dutch, French, South African and US experts are helping Libya with the investigation.

Dutch forensic experts are helping to identify the bodies.

Most of the passengers on the flight were from the Netherlands.


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