Libya plane crash boy survivor says he's 'fine'

14th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The nine-year-old Dutch boy who was the only survivor of a plane crash that killed 103 people said he is in a lot of pain but keen to go home, in his first comments published on Friday.

Ruben van Assouw could remember nothing of Wednesday's disaster and was not yet aware that his parents and 11-year-old brother had died in the accident, the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported.

"My name is Ruben and I am from Holland," Telegraaf reported on a telephone conversation with the sole survivor of the Afriqiyah Airways crash at Tripoli airport.

"I am fine, but my legs hurt a lot," the boy told a reporter from the newspaper on the mobile phone of one of his doctors.

"I am in a hospital," Ruben told the newspaper. "There are men and women here. I don't know how I got here, I don't know anything more," he said.

"I really want to go home."

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's eldest son, Seif al-Islam, visited the boy on Thursday at the hospital in the capital where he is recovering after surgery on his smashed legs, the official Jana news agency reported.

Islam had "asked about the health of the Dutch boy and about the treatment he is receiving from doctors at Al-Khadra hospital," the Libyan news agency reported.

The boy and his family had been returning from a safari holiday in South Africa.

He has only been identified by the Dutch foreign ministry as Ruben but more fully by Dutch media as Ruben van Assouw.

He greeted an aunt and uncle with a smile when they arrived at his Tripoli bedside on Thursday and would be transported to the Netherlands as soon as his medical condition allowed, a doctor said.

Officials said 70 Dutch citizens, including Ruben's family, were among the 103 people killed when the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 from Johannesburg disintegrated on landing on Wednesday.

The Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad said the boy was probably from Tilburg in the southern Netherlands and that he had been on safari in South Africa with his mother Trudy, 41, father Patrick, 40, and brother Enzo, 11.

Siddiq ben Dilla, the doctor who operated on the boy, said on Thursday that he was "getting better" and could return to the Netherlands in the next few days.

"His family is with him now," the doctor told AFP. "His memory is good: as soon as his relatives walked in he smiled, and was happy to see them."

© 2010 AFP

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