Air-crash boy (9) to be told his family did not survive disaster
Published 14/05/2010 | 05:00
A young Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of the Libyan plane crash in which 103 people died had been returning from a safari holiday with his parents and brother, according to his grandmother.
Ruben van Assouw (9) was identified after pictures of him recovering in a hospital bed in Tripoli were published after the accident on Wednesday.
Doctors said that after coming around from anaesthetic he was able to say "Holland" twice and his name -- Ruben. He was later able to tell officials that he came from the town of Tilburg.
His grandmother, An van de Sande, said that Ruben had been travelling with his brother Enzo (11) and parents Trudy (41) and Patrick (40) who were celebrating their wedding anniversary.
"We don't understand it at all," Mrs van de Sande said. "It is as if we're in a movie."
Doctors said he had been repeatedly calling for his "Mama and Papa" but smiled broadly for the first time when he recognised his aunt and uncle, who had flown to be by his bedside.
They now face telling him that his family did not survive. A Dutch official said: "They feel he should be told as soon as possible, they have an unenviable task and Ruben has a difficult time ahead. He is still in shock with no memory as yet about the crash."
It is not known how Ruben was thrown clear of the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330, which left burnt-out wreckage and parts of seats and bodies strewn across a large area, when it crashed on arrival from Johannesburg.
The boy suffered serious leg and ankle fractures, but doctors said he was expected to make a full recovery. Sole survivors are surprisingly common in air crashes, with experts often unable to explain it.
The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a 42 year-old woman with dual Irish and South African nationality was on the passenger list.
She has been named as Bree O'Mara, an author who was flying to Britain to sign a book deal.
The number of Dutch citizens confirmed dead was raised to 70. Six South Africans, two Libyans, two Austrians, a German, Zimbabwean and French national are so far also confirmed among the dead.
The plane also carried 11 crew members, all Libyan. Investigators have arrived in Tripoli to investigate the crash. The plane was an Airbus 330-200, the same as that involved in the still unexplained crash of an Air France plane in the Atlantic on a flight from Brazil in June. (© Daily Telegraph, London)