Sole Libyan crash survivor is Dutch boy: ministry

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The sole survivor of a Libyan plane crash that killed 103 people is a nine-year-old boy called Ruben from the southern Netherlands, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

"A colleague from the embassy (in Tripoli) was able to speak with him. He told her he was Ruben, nine years old, from the city of Tilburg," ministry spokesman Christoph Prommersberger told AFP, adding the boy was doing "reasonably well".

"He is not in a critical condition."

The ministry would not reveal the boy's surname to protect the family's privacy, but a daily newspaper said he was probably Ruben van Assouw.

"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.

"We don't understand. It's like we're in a film," it quoted her as saying.

Ruben van Assouw had been on safari in South Africa with his brother Enzo, 11, mother Trudy, 41, and father Patrick, 40, said the newspaper.

Prommersberger said an uncle and an aunt of the boy arrived in Tripoli on a government plane around 9:00 am (0700 GMT), from where they were taken to the hospital "to make sure that Ruben will see family faces next to his bed".

The boy would be flown to the Netherlands "as soon as his medical condition allows".

Sixty-one Dutch citizens were believed killed, according to the Dutch tourism federation ANWB, when an Afriqiyah Airways plane from Johannesburg disintegrated on landing around 6:00 am (0400 GMT) at Tripoli airport on Wednesday.

The Dutch toll has not been officially confirmed.

The boy's doctor said earlier that Ruben had come round after surgery for smashed legs and was in a stable condition but confused.

"The child underwent several rounds of surgery to his legs. He had simple fractures and double fractures," the doctor said on Libyan state television, which also showed pictures of the boy's legs in casts.

"He woke up (late Wednesday night) and is in good condition," the doctor said.

He added the boy was confused and "still is not reacting well to his surroundings".

Also on board the Dutch government plane that landed in Tripoli Thursday were forensic experts and consular staff to help identify the dead and provide support on the ground, said another foreign ministry spokesman Francesco Mascini.

There were also experts from the transport ministry to "help determine the cause of the crash".

© 2010 AFP

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