Tripoli air crash victims remembered

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

A memorial service will be held today to commemorate the victims of the Tripoli air crash exactly one year ago. Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal will attend the private service which will be held in the historic Theater Diligentia in The Hague.

The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330 crashed short of the runway at Tripoli airport after a flight from Johannesburg in South Africa, killing 103 people. Seventy victims had Dutch nationality.

Dutch boy Ruben van Assouw - the sole survivor of the crash - will not be attending the service. His aunt and uncle, now his guardians, want to shelter him from publicity. The 10-year-old boy made world headlines last year after he was found still breathing at the scene of the crash.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital and underwent several rounds of surgery to both legs. His tale of survival attracted enormous media attention. “The miracle boy” appeared on Libyan state television in a hospital bed with a bandaged head and wearing an oxygen mask, his legs in casts.

Ruben, then 9, had been on holidays with his parents and older brother in South Africa. Several days after surgery in Libya, he was flown back to the Netherlands. He learnt that his parents and brother were dead before taking off.

This week a photograph was released by Ruben’s aunt and uncle, showing the boy walking through countryside with his cousins. His recovery progressed extremely well, his relatives say, thanks to the surgery performed by the Libyan doctors.

Ruben was planning to return to Tripoli and visit the crash site and his doctors, but is unable to travel there owing to the uprising against Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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