Sole survivor 'probably' nine-year-old Dutch boy: media

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

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 Thursday.

"We received a telephone call" from officials to say that the boy, being treated in a Libyan hospital, mentioned the name "Ruben", his grandmother An van de Sande told the Brabants Dagblad as 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 6:00 am (0400 GMT) at Tripoli airport on Wednesday.

Van de Sande said she and other family members had waited for news at a Brussels air field the whole of Wednesday, "and so I haven't yet seen the television footage" of the bruised boy in his hospital bed.

"Other family members have seen it, but it is difficult to be 100 percent sure that it is indeed Ruben.

"We don't understand it. It's like we're in a movie."

Dutch officials said Wednesday the child had undergone surgery for broken bones and his condition was not life-threatening.

Foreign ministry spokesman Francesco Mascini would on Thursday not confirm the survivor's identity "until the two presumed family members have seen the child".

Mascini said the two family members had left on a government plane around 6:00 am (0400 GMT) from the port city of Rotterdam, and would make their way to the hospital on arrival in Tripoli later in the 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 crash". Dutch tourism federation ANWB said Wednesday 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 confirmed.

© 2010 AFP

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